UPSC Civil Services Prelims Model Paper 5

Question 1 of 80
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Direction for the following 3 (three) items: Read the following passage and answer the items that follow thepassage. Your answers to these items should be based on the passage only.

Some psychologists and sociologists believe that psychopathy can be an asset in business and politicsand that, as a result, psychopathic traits are over represented among successful people. This would be apuzzle if it were so. If our moral feelings evolved through natural selection, then it shouldn't be the case thatone would flourish without them. And, in fact, the successful psychopath is probably the exception.Psychopaths have certain deficits. Some of these are subtle. The psychologist Abigail Marsh and hercolleagues find that psychopaths are markedly insensitive to the expression of fear. Normal people recognizefear and treat it as a distress cue, but 13 psychopaths have problems seeing it, let alone responding to itappropriately. Other deficits run deeper. The overall lack of moral sentiments−and specifically, the lack ofregard for others−might turn out to be the psychopath's downfall. We non-psychopaths are constantlyassessing one another, looking for kindness and shame and the like, using this information to decide whomto trust, whom to affiliate with. The psychopath has to pretend to be one of us. But this is difficult. It's hardto force yourself to comply with moral rules just through a rational appreciation of what you are expected todo. If you feel like strangling the cat, it's a struggle to hold back just because you know that it is frownedupon. Without a normal allotment of shame and guilt, psychopaths succumb to bad impulses, doing terriblethings out of malice, greed, and simple boredom. And sooner or later, they get caught. While psychopaths canbe successful in the short term, they tend to fail in the long term and often end up in prison or worse. Let'stake a closer look at what separates psychopaths from the rest of us. There are many symptoms ofpsychopathy, including pathological lying and lack of remorse or guilt, but the core deficit is indifferencetoward the suffering of other people. Psychopaths lack compassion. To understand how compassion works forall of us non-psychopaths, it's important to distinguish it from empathy. Now, some contemporary researchersuse the terms interchangeably, but there is a big difference between caring about a person (compassion) andputting yourself in the person's shoes (empathy).

I am too much of an adaptationist to think that a capacity as rich as empathy exists as a freakbiological accident. It most likely has a function, and the most plausible candidate here is that it motivates usto care about others. Empathy exists to motivate compassion and altruism. Still, the link between empathy(in the sense of mirroring another's feelings) and compassion (in the sense of feeling and acting kindly towardanother) is more nuanced than many people believe. First, although empathy can be automatic andunconscious−a crying person can affect your mood, even if you're not aware that this is happening and wouldrather it didn't−we often choose whether to empathize with another person. So when empathy is present, itmay be the product of a moral choice, not the cause of it. Empathy is also influenced by what one thinks ofthe other person. Second, empathy is not needed to motivate compassion. As the psychologist Steven Pinkerpoints out, "If a child has been frightened by a barking dog and is howling in terror, my sympathetic responseis not to howl in terror with her, but to comfort and protect her". Third, just as you can have compassionwithout empathy, you can have empathy without compassion. You might feel the person's pain and wish tostop feeling it -but choose to solve the problem by distancing yourself from that person instead of alleviatinghis or her suffering. Even otherwise good people sometimes turn away when faced with depictions of painand suffering in faraway lands, or when passing a homeless person on a city street.

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