Wow, I didn’t even know this kind of research was possible, but it blew my mind. I read through the methods pretty carefully to make sure that it was legit. It was published in a very reputable journal by brain researchers from MIT, so they have the credibility. Here is a summary of what they found.
They had Israelis, Arabs, and South Americans read different stories about individuals from all three groups. All of the stories involved either the person experiencing physical pain (stepping on a thumbtack) or emotional pain (not getting an expected raise at work). They did fMRI on three areas of the brain. The area that we use to predict the physical experience of another person, the area that we use to predict the emotional thoughts of another person, and the area where we feel compassion. They also asked the people to verbally rate how much physical or emotional pain they thought the person in the story was feeling, and compassion they felt for the person in the story.