When someone is victimized, do you see yourself in them in some manner? It could be why you feel compassion toward them.

Psychology professor David DeSteno spoke about the science of compassion to a packed crowd at PopTech 2012 in Camden, Maine on October 19.

“It is not the severity or the objective facts of a disaster that motivate us to feel compassion and to help,” he said. “It is whether or not we see ourselves in the victims.”

DeSteno directs the Social Emotions Lab at Northeastern University.