Is Tylenol Dulling Our Capacity for Empathy?
In a follow-up to a startling 2016 study reporting that use of the popular painkiller acetaminophen dulls our response to others’ suffering, Ohio State University psychologist Dominik Mischkowski reports that it also makes us more indifferent to their pleasure. “Given that an estimated quarter of all U.S. adults consume a drug containing acetaminophen every week, this research really matters,” Mischkowski said in announcing the findings. Amplifying his point, another new study finds that the ability and willingness to empathize with others promotes cooperative behavior. Any substance that imperils that process poses problems for society — especially if such a substance is available at every convenience store in the country.