How to Cite
E. Mercadillo, R., & Díaz, J. L. (2013). Neuroscience and ethnography: an interdisciplinary revision and a cognitive proposal based on compassion research in Mexico. International Journal of Psychological Research, 6, 94–100. https://doi.org/10.21500/20112084.723
License terms
The work that is sent to this journal must be original, not published or sent to be published elsewhere; and if it is accepted for publication, authors will agree to transfer copyright to International Journal of Psychological Research. 

To give up copyright, the authors allow that, International Journal of Psychological Research, distribute the work more broadly, check for the reuse by others and take care of the necessary procedures for the registration and administration of copyright; at the same time, our editorial board represents the interests of the author and allows authors to re-use his work in various forms. In response to the above, authors transfer copyright to the journal, International Journal of Psychological Research. This transfer does not imply other rights which are not those of authorship (for example those that concern about patents). Likewise, preserves the authors rights to use the work integral or partially in lectures, books and courses, as well as make copies for educational purposes. Finally, the authors may use freely the tables and figures in its future work, wherever make explicit reference to the previous publication in International Journal of Psychological Research. The assignment of copyright includes both virtual rights and forms of the article to allow the editorial to disseminate the work in the manner which it deems appropriate. 

The editorial board reserves the right of amendments deemed necessary in the application of the rules of publication.


Social neuroscience considers the interplay of biologically evolved mechanisms and culturally shaped experiences as decisive to contextualize, motivate and influence complex brain functions and cognition. Compassion is a suitable moral emotion for approaching social cognition because it involves naturally and socially evolved factors to empathize with and wish to alleviate a perceived suffering of other individuals, and thereby promote social welfare. The present paper outlines research projects performed in Mexico, which focused on compassion from different viewpoints. The analysis includes psychometric evaluations of emotional appraisals, ethnographic records of Mayan populations, functional brain imaging with healthy Mexican individuals, including a sample of police officers’, and theoretical analysis relating compassion and violence. We propose a threefold neurocognitive compassion system encompassing empathy, executive functions and memory. Also, we suggest applying ethnographic methods to design neuroimaging studies and thereby reveal and interpret brain functions among different social and cultural groups.



Abarbanell, L., & Hauser, M. D. (2010). Mayan morality: an exploration of permissible harms. Cognition, 115(2), 207-224.
Adolphs, R. (2009). The social brain: neural basis of social knowledge. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 693-716.
Adolphs, R., & Spezio, M. (2006). Role of the amygdala in processing visual social stimuli. Progress in Brain Research, 156, 363-378.
Amodio, D. M., Jost, J. T., Master, S. L., & Yee, C. M. (2007). Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism. Nature Neuroscience, 10(10), 1246-1247.
Aranda-Beltran, C., Pando-Moreno, M., Salazar-Estrada, J. G., Torres-Lopez, T. M., & Aldrete-Rodriguez, M. G. (2009). Social support, burnout syndrome and occupational exhaustion among Mexican traffic police agents. Spanish Journal of Psychology, 12(2), 585-592.
Axmacher, N., Schmitz, D. P., Weinreich, I., Elger, C. E., & Fell, J. (2008). Interaction of working memory and long-term memory in the medial temporal lobe. Cerebral Cortex, 18(12), 2868-2878.
Beer, J. S., Heerey, E. A., Keltner, D., Scabini, D., & Knight, R. T. (2003). The regulatory function of self-conscious emotion: insights from patients with orbitofrontal damage. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(4), 594-604.
Beer, J. S., & Ochsner, K. N. (2006). Social cognition: a multilevel analysis. Brain Research, 1079(1), 98-105.
Bradley, M. M., Sabatinelli, D., Lang, P. J., Fitzsimmons, J. R., King, W., & Desai, P. (2003). Activation of the visual cortex in motivated attention. Behavioral Neuroscience, 117(2), 369-380.
Brewer, M. B. (2004). Taking the social origins of human nature seriously: toward a more imperialist social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8(2), 107-113.
Buss, D. (1999). Evolutionary psychology. The new science of the mind. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Cacioppo, J. T., & Berntson, G. G. (1992). Social psychological contributions to the decade of the brain. Doctrine of multilevel analysis. American Psychologist, 47(8), 1019-1028.
Campbell, A. (2008). Attachment, aggression and affiliation: the role of oxytocin in female social behavior. Biological Psychology, 77(1), 1-10.
Carr, L., Iacoboni, M., Dubeau, M. C., Mazziotta, J. C., & Lenzi, G. L. (2003). Neural mechanisms of empathy in humans: a relay from neural systems for imitation to limbic areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(9), 5497-5502.
Cartwright, J. (2001). Evolution and human behavior: Darwinian perspectives on human nature. Cambridge: Bradford Book.
Cervera, M. D., & Méndez, R. M. (2006). Temperament and ecological context among Yucatec Mayan children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30(4), 326-337.
Charmaz, K. (2005). Grounded theory in the 21st Century. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative


Download data is not yet available.

Cited by