Acetaminophen Reduces Empathy
The most common drug ingredient in the United States, Acetaminophen, may not only reduce your pain, but also decrease your empathy for others. According to researchers from The Ohio State University, when people took this particular drug they experienced less pain when hearing about the hardships of others.
These results come from two experiments conducted throughout this study, which is published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. The first experiment had 80 participants, all college students. Half of the students were give a liquid with 1,000 mg of acetaminophen to consume. The other half were given a placebo solution. They were unaware of which group they fell in. The students were then asked to read short stories in which people suffered pain and were asked to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 5. Those who took acetaminophen rated the pain as less severe.
The second experiment included 114 college students. Similar to the first experiment, half were given acetaminophen while the other half were given a placebo. They were then given blasts of noises and were asked to rate them from 1 (not unpleasant) to 10 (extremely unpleasant). They were also questioned on whether they thought the noise blasts would be unpleasant for others. Those given the medication rated the blasts as less unpleasant for themselves and also thought they would be less unpleasant for others.
The results of this study are interesting as over 52 million Americans take this medication daily.