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【BBC】负面情绪如何改变大脑

【BBC】负面情绪如何改变大脑

我们时常感叹大脑本身的复杂,然而情绪却比我们想象的更加强大,它甚至能够影响大脑活动和我们的想法。坏心情,会减弱我们对处在痛苦中的他人的同理心,让我们更容易忽略他人的感受。


负面情绪如何改变大脑


【BBC】负面情绪如何改变大脑


作者:Melissa Hogenboom

译者:邓小雪 & 高浦铭

校对: 黄倩霞

策划:张松


Our emotions can have an unexpected downside of how we respond to others in pain, finds Melissa Hogenboom

梅丽莎·霍根博的研究表明,我们对于他人经受痛苦时的反应,会出乎意料地受到自身负面情绪的影响。 


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In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, the many wrongs that befall Offred strike a chilling chord among most readers. When she is struck with a cattle prod we can almost feel her pain, and recoil at the terrible injustice of her imprisonment.

在马格瑞特·阿特伍德的反乌托邦小说《使女的故事》中,大部分读者都会为主人公奥佛瑞的悲惨境遇而唏嘘不已。当她被赶牛棒殴打的时候,我们几乎能感受到她的痛苦,并为她的监禁深感不公。


It is so unsettling because we know that each scenario in this fictional work was influenced by an element of history. “If I was to create an imaginary garden I wanted the toads in it to be real,” Atwood wrote of her work in the New York Times.

这种感觉令人如此不安,因为我们知道这部虚构的小说中的每一个场景,都或多或少受到历史的影响。“如果我想创造一个幻想的花园,我希望里面的蟾蜍都看起来像真的。”作者阿特伍德在对纽约时报谈起她的作品时表示。


We are therefore easily able to put ourselves in Offred’s shoes and feel empathy towards her. It taps into our very human capacity to share the feelings others feel. In fact, when we see someone else hurt, the brain areas linked to our own pain also become active.

因此,我们很容易把自己置身于主人公奥佛瑞的境地,并对她产生同理心。这是因为我们作为人类有着与生俱来的能力,对他人的境遇感同身受。实际上,看到别人受伤时,我们大脑中与自己疼痛相关的区域也会被激活。


But it turns out that our emotional state has an effect on how much empathy we feel. Our emotions literally change the way our brain responds to others, even when they are in pain. In particular, it is when we feel bad that it can have a consequence on our social world.

然而,我们自己的情绪状况也会影响同情心的程度。我们的情绪能改变大脑对于他人的反应方式,即便大脑正处于痛苦之中。具体来说,当我们心情糟糕时,大脑的反应会影响我们的社交活动。


It is apparent that our mood can influence our behavior in a myriad of ways, from the food choices we make – when we are in a bad mood we eat less healthily – to our friendships. When our friends are down and gloomy, the feeling can be contagious and can makes us feel more miserable too. Bad moods can even spread on social media, a 2017 study found.    

很显然,我们的心情能以各种方式影响我们的行为,从食物的选择(当心情不好的时候我们会吃垃圾食品)到友谊的维系。如果我们的朋友情绪低落沮丧,我们也会受到感染感觉痛苦不堪。一份2017年的研究表示,负面情绪甚至能在社交媒体上传播。


In fact, our emotions are so powerful that when we are in a positive mood, it can dampen how much pain we feel when injured. It provides us with an analgesic-like effect. When it comes to negative emotions, the opposite occurs: our feeling towards that pain is exaggerated.

实际上,我们的情绪非常强大,以至于正能量情绪能减弱我们受伤时感觉到的痛苦,其作用与止痛剂类似。而负能量情绪则正好相反:它能放大痛苦的感觉。


Worse, a recent study, published in December 2017, has shown that when we feel bad it affects our in-built capacity to respond to others in pain. It literally dampens our empathy. Emilie Qiao-Tasserit at the University of Geneva and her team wanted to understand how our emotions influence the way we respond to others while they are in pain. Individuals were made to feel pain with a temperature-increasing device on their leg. The team also showed participants positive or negative movie clips while in a brain scanner, in addition to making them feel pain, or when watching clips of others in pain. Did participants feel empathy towards those who they knew were made to feel pain, the team wondered.

2017年12月公布的一项研究显示,更糟糕的是,负面情绪能影响我们与生俱来对于他人痛苦产生反应的能力。它会减弱我们的同理心。日内瓦大学的艾米丽·乔塔斯利特和她的团队想要了解情绪如何影响了我们对于他人痛苦所产生的反应。研究对象通过胳膊上的升温仪器感知疼痛。除此之外,研究团队也给参与者观看正面或负面的影片片段或他人遭遇痛苦的片段,同时扫描他们的大脑。他们想知道,参与者是否会在感知到他人痛苦时产生同理心。


It turns out that those who watched a negative clip and then saw others in pain showed less brain activity in areas that are related to pain: the anterior insula and middle cingulate cortex. These are usually active when we see others in pain as well as when we experience pain ourselves. “In other words, negative emotions can suppress our brain capacity to be sensitive to others’ pain,” explains Qiao-Tasserit.

结果表明,观看负面影片的参与者看到他人受苦时,大脑中与疼痛相关的区域——前脑岛和中部的扣带皮层的活跃程度比较低。这些区域通常在我们自身感受疼痛或看到别人经历痛苦时比较活跃。“换句话说,负面情绪能抑制我们对于他人痛苦的感知。”乔塔斯利特解释道。


This work is revealing. It shows that emotions can literally change our “brain state”, and that by doing so our own feelings modify how we perceive someone else’s.

这项实验结果是发人深省的:人们的情绪确实会改变“大脑的状态”,而我们的主观感受也会因此影响我们对他人的看法。


Along similar lines, another study by Qiao-Tasserit and colleagues found that after watching a negative clip, people tended to judge a face with a neutral emotion as more negative.

无独有偶,乔塔斯利特和他的同事在另一个研究中发现,当研究对象看完一条负能量的短片后,他们很有可能将一个面无表情的人看作是愁眉苦脸的。


These results obviously have real-world implications. If a person in power, say a boss, has been exposed to something negative in their lives – even something as simple as a negative movie – they could be less sensitive to a colleague in pain and even view them more negatively. Our bad moods literally make us less receptive to others’ feelings.

这些结果具有明显的现实意义:如果一个有权有势的人(比如公司老板)经历了些不愉快的事后(没准就看了个充满负能量的电影),便可能很难察觉到员工的痛苦,甚至会更消极的看待他们。这说明,当我们心情糟糕时,会更易忽视他人的感受。


A lack of empathy has other implications too. Findings show that reduced empathy will result in less money donated to charity. Brain scans reveal that we also show less empathy to those who are not in our immediate social circle, say teammates in a sports club.

缺乏同理心也会带来其他的影响。研究显示:一旦人们对他人的同理心下降,他们对慈善机构的捐助也会随之减少。脑部扫描结果显示,如果对方不是我们最亲近的人(比如体育俱乐部里的队友),我们不会对他们有过多同感。


So why would negative emotions reduce empathy? It could be that a specific type of empathy, called empathic distress, is at play. This, explains Olga Klimecki, also at the University of Geneva, is “the feeling of being overwhelmed” when something bad happens to someone else, which makes you want to protect yourself instead of being overcome by negative feelings. This type of empathy even shows very different brain activation compared to typical empathy. This kind of distress might naturally also reduce compassion.

那么,为什么当人们心情不好时,同理心会随之降低呢?这很有可能是因为“同理抑制”(一种特殊形式的同理心)在作祟。日内瓦大学的奥尔加.克里米奇解释道,当看到不好的事发生在他人身上时,人们也会不知所措,这时就产生自我保护欲,避免自己被消极情绪压垮。从大脑活动上看,这种同理心不同于普遍的同情心,也可能随之减少人们对他人的同情。


It might also be that any situation that elicits negative emotions encourages us to focus more on ourselves and any issues we face. “Anxious and depressed patients who suffer from an excess negative emotions are more likely to focus on their own problems and be isolated,” says Qiao-Tasserit.

另外,当我们闷闷不乐时,会更关注于自己的问题。乔塔斯利特说道,“焦虑和消极的病人深受极端压抑之苦,他们心里大多只盘算着自己的烦心事,并且变得自闭。”


One 2016 study by Klimecki and colleagues even found that empathic distress increases aggression. Here participants were subjected to unfair scenarios and then had the chance to punish or forgive their competitors. What’s more, the participants in her study were asked to do personality tests before they came into the lab. She found that those who were more naturally compassionate reacted with less derogatory behaviour.

2016年,克林米奇和她的同事在一项研究中发现,“同理抑制”会增加人的攻击性。实验开始之前,参与者按要求参加了性格测试,在实验中,参与者遭到了不公平的对待后,他们可以选择对手采取报复或给予宽容。克林米奇发现,那些天生同情心更强的人,报复心更弱。


For Klimecki this was telling. In her extensive research on empathy she has shown that it is possible to cultivate more compassionate behaviour. She found that feelings of compassionate empathy can be trained. Our emotional responses to others are therefore clearly not set in stone.

克林米奇认为这个实验结果很能说明问题。她在大范围的研究调查中发现:人们可能通过后天的培养变得更有同情心。她发现同情心是可以通过“训练”得到的。因此,很明显,我们对他人的情绪反应不是一成不变的。


This shows that we can all re-engage our inner empathy, even in the face of someone else’s distress. And when we think a bit more positively it will help broaden our attention towards others’ needs. “This could contribute to greater relationships, a key factor of happiness,” says Qiao-Tasserit.

这意味着,即便我们在面临他人的痛苦时,我们也可以找回发自内心的恻隐之情。当我们的想法越积极,我们就更关注他人所需。乔塔斯利特谈到,“这可以增进我们与他人间的友谊,并且对获得个人的幸福感十分重要。


So next time you are in a foul mood, consider the effect it might have on the people you communicate with day-to-day. You may also want to time your reading of chilling dystopian novels or horror movies wisely. If you read or watch them while in a bad mood, that’s the perfect time to keep your empathy at bay, and feel a little less distressed at the pain – real or fictional – of others.

因此当你以后心情不好时,可以想一下:这种心情会给每日相伴的朋友带来怎样的影响。你也应该在这时,明智地分配花在惊悚的反乌托邦小说和恐怖电影上的时间。因为如果你心情不好的同时看这些书和电影,那你此时的同理心势必会减少,对他人的悲惨遭遇——无论真实还是虚构,也不会那么感同身受。


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【BBC】负面情绪如何改变大脑

<原文链接:http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180115-how-feeling-bad-changes-the-brain>

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