We always knew that grandmas and their grandchildren always have a special bond. I always thought that bond was unexplainable. I guess I was wrong! A new study done by Emory University showed just how special this connection truly is.
This study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal last month and was based on 50 grandmothers. Each of these grandmothers was monitored while they were shown pictures of their children, their grandchildren, and a random adult and child.
These grandmothers were also asked many questions about their relationship with their children and grandchildren. The researchers wanted to see their role in taking care of both.
This study showed that grandmas use a different type of empathy with their grandchildren, which is emotional empathy. They don’t use this empathy with their own kids, but rather cognitive empathy.
This means that grandmas can understand what their child is going through, but wants to emotionally relate more to their grandchildren and what they are feeling. Pretty fascinating huh?
James Rilling, Emory professor of anthropology and author shared in a press release: “What really jumps out in the data is the activation in areas of the brain associated with emotional empathy. That suggests that grandmothers are geared toward feeling what their grandchildren are feeling when they interact with them. If their grandchild is smiling, they’re feeling the child’s joy. And if their grandchild is crying, they’re feeling the child’s pain and distress.”
How cool is that! Hopefully, more research comes out so we can learn more about this relationship and the science behind it!