What interests me most about this research is that it was focused on embodied empathy (the study used cold and thirst as the empathic feeling states). This suggests, to me, that we are willing to allow cognitive biases (differing political view) to override the basic humanity of shared physiological discomfort - in essence, we dehumanize others by attributing to them opposing political views.
This is interesting - and disheartening - research, but there needs to be more of it, and as Wilkinon suggests, we need to know more about "the limits of outgroup empathic reception."
It appears to be extremely difficult to keep in our tiny tribal monkey minds, but do try: they are not really so different. Better: there is no they, only us. Why are we so prone to violence? Why do we cross borders illegally? Why do we hate us?Indeed.
By the way, I use the image of Sam Harris at the top of this post because he is the perfect example of someone who has lost all ability to empathize with others who are different from him, in this case Muslims, and likely anyone who appears to be from Muslim parts of the world. He is advocating that we profile all people who appear Muslim for TSA screenings in airports. And yet he was the one person in his own article who posed a serious threat:
I once accidentally used a bag for carry-on in which I had once stored a handgun—and passed through three airport checkpoints with nearly 75 rounds of 9 mm ammunition.Seriously - I have friends who are Indian by birth, with brown skin, who are Muslim, and very affluent. They have been "profiled" a dozen or more times, while I have never been singled out for extra scrutiny. The TSA already profiles Muslim men, and they are no more dangerous than the old couple or the three year old Harris describe in his rant.
Anyway, here is the article from Big Think.