Our expert says:
Fascinating question, Gabrielle. I don't recall any good research on these issues. People certainly do seem capable of highly selective empathy / sympathy --- some are fiercely protective of animals, but not children --- or vice versa. Some are fierce about protecting every potential life BEFORE birth, but strangely lose interest in the later life of the children once born. It's not clear whether empathy can be taight. It does seem that it can be encouraged or discouraged, by parenting and life experiences, and by educational experiences that expose one to relevant issues.
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