An emotion-differentiated perspective on empathy with the emotion specific empathy questionnaire.
ABSTRACT: Empathy refers to the thoughts and feelings of one individual in response to the observed (emotional) experiences of another individual. Empathy, however, can occur toward persons experiencing a variety of emotions, raising the question of whether or not empathy can be emotion specific. This paper discusses theoretical and empirical support for the emotion specificity of empathy. We present a new measure, the Emotion Specific Empathy questionnaire, which assesses affective and cognitive empathy for the six basic emotions. This paper presents the measure's psychometric qualities and demonstrates, through a series of models, the discriminant validity between emotion specific empathies suggesting empathy is emotion specific. Results and implications are discussed.
Project description:Individual differences in empathy can have positive and negative psychological outcomes. Yet, individual differences in the processing and regulation of empathy-induced emotion have not been fully explored within this dynamic. This study was designed to explore whether individual differences in emotion regulation strategies moderated the effects of empathy on common forms of affective distress. Eight hundred and forty four participants completed survey measures of trait empathy, emotion regulation strategies, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Affective empathy typically predicted greater affective distress, but the effects on depression and anxiety were offset when people were effective at reappraising their emotions. Cognitive empathy predicted lower distress on average, but this beneficial effect on anxiety and stress was absent in those who typically suppressed their emotions. Finally, suppression unexpectedly reduced the depression and stress reported for people high in affective empathy. Individual differences in emotion regulation are an important moderator between empathy and psychological health, and thus a useful target for intervention.
Project description:Empathy is the lens through which we view others' emotion expressions, and respond to them. In this study, empathy and facial emotion recognition were investigated in adults with autism spectrum conditions (ASC; N=314), parents of a child with ASC (N=297) and IQ-matched controls (N=184). Participants completed a self-report measure of empathy (the Empathy Quotient [EQ]) and a modified version of the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces Task (KDEF) using an online test interface. Results showed that mean scores on the EQ were significantly lower in fathers (p<0.05) but not mothers (p>0.05) of children with ASC compared to controls, whilst both males and females with ASC obtained significantly lower EQ scores (p<0.001) than controls. On the KDEF, statistical analyses revealed poorer overall performance by adults with ASC (p<0.001) compared to the control group. When the 6 distinct basic emotions were analysed separately, the ASC group showed impaired performance across five out of six expressions (happy, sad, angry, afraid and disgusted). Parents of a child with ASC were not significantly worse than controls at recognising any of the basic emotions, after controlling for age and non-verbal IQ (all p>0.05). Finally, results indicated significant differences between males and females with ASC for emotion recognition performance (p<0.05) but not for self-reported empathy (p>0.05). These findings suggest that self-reported empathy deficits in fathers of autistic probands are part of the 'broader autism phenotype'. This study also reports new findings of sex differences amongst people with ASC in emotion recognition, as well as replicating previous work demonstrating empathy difficulties in adults with ASC. The use of empathy measures as quantitative endophenotypes for ASC is discussed.
Project description:Mindfulness involves an intentional and non-judgemental attention or awareness of present-moment experiences. It can be cultivated by meditation practice or present as an inherent disposition or trait. Higher trait mindfulness has been associated with improved emotional skills, but evidence comes primarily from studies on emotion regulation. It remains unclear whether improvements extend to other aspects of emotional processing, namely the ability to recognize emotions in others. In the current study, 107 participants (M age = 25.48 years) completed a measure of trait mindfulness, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and two emotion recognition tasks. These tasks required participants to categorize emotions in facial expressions and in speech prosody (modulations of the tone of voice). They also completed an empathy questionnaire and attention tasks. We found that higher trait mindfulness was associated positively with cognitive empathy, but not with the ability to recognize emotions. In fact, Bayesian analyses provided substantial evidence for the null hypothesis, both for emotion recognition in faces and in speech. Moreover, no associations were observed between mindfulness and attention performance. These findings suggest that the positive effects of trait mindfulness on emotional processing do not extend to emotion recognition abilities.
Project description:Physicians experience many emotionally challenging situations in their professional lives, influencing their emotional state through emotion contagion or social appraisal processes. Successful emotion regulation is crucial to sustain health, enable well-being, foster resilience, and prevent burnout or compassion fatigue. Despite the alarmingly high rate of stress-related disorders in physicians, affecting not only physician well-being, but also outcomes such as physician performance, quality of care, or patient satisfaction, research on how to deal with emotionally challenging situations in physicians is lacking. Based on extant literature, the present article proposes a theoretical model depicting emotions, emotion regulation, and empathy-related processes and their relation to well-being in provider-client interactions. This model serves as a basis for future research and interventions aiming at improving physician well-being and professional functioning. As a first step, interviews with 21 psychiatrists were conducted. Results of qualitative and initial quantitative analyses provided detailed descriptions of the model's components confirming its usefulness for detecting mechanisms linking emotion regulation and well-being in psychiatrist-patient interactions. Additionally, results lend preliminary support for the validity of the model, suggesting that successful regulation of emotions (i.e., achieving a desired emotional state) elicited by cyclical transfer processes in provider-client interactions is associated with both short- and long-term well-being and resilience. Furthermore, empathy-related emotions and their regulation seem to be linked to well-being. Based on the results of the present study, a prospective longitudinal study is under preparation, which is intended to inform effective interventions targeting emotion transfer, empathy-related processes, and emotion regulation in physicians' professional lives. The model and results are also potentially applicable to other health care and social services providers.
Project description:How is positive emotion associated with our ability to empathize with others? Extant research provides support for two competing predictions about this question. An empathy amplification hypothesis suggests positive emotion would be associated with greater empathy, as it often enhances other prosocial processes. A contrasting empathy attenuation hypothesis suggests positive emotion would be associated with lower empathy, because positive emotion promotes self-focused or antisocial behaviors. The present investigation tested these competing perspectives by examining associations between dispositional positive emotion and both subjective (i.e., self-report) and objective (i.e., task performance) measures of empathy. Findings revealed that although trait positive emotion was associated with increased subjective beliefs about empathic tendencies, it was associated with both increases and decreases in task-based empathic performance depending on the target's emotional state. More specifically, trait positive emotion was linked to lower overall empathic accuracy toward a high-intensity negative target, but also a higher sensitivity to emotion upshifts (i.e., shifts in emotion from negative to positive) toward positive targets. This suggests that trait positive affect may be associated with decreased objective empathy in the context of mood incongruent (i.e., negative) emotional stimuli, but may increase some aspects of empathic performance in the context of mood congruent (i.e., positive) stimuli. Taken together, these findings suggest that trait positive emotion engenders a compelling subjective-objective gap regarding its association with empathy, in being related to a heightened perception of empathic tendencies, despite being linked to mixed abilities in regards to empathic performance. (Word count: 242).
Project description:The main objective of the present research was to examine the role played by emotional intelligence in its three dimensions-emotional attention, emotional clarity, and emotion regulation-and by empathy in its four dimensions-perspective-taking, empathic understanding, empathic stress, and empathic joy-in cyber violence, both in aggressors and victims. A total sample of 1318 adolescents (47% boys; aged between 11 and 17 years), enrolled in four secondary compulsory education schools in Spain, participated in the study. The results indicated that, regarding emotional intelligence, cyberaggressors showed statistically significant differences in the dimension of emotion regulation. Participation in violent online behaviors is associated with a lower capacity to regulate emotions; cybervictims showed statistically significant differences in the three dimensions of emotional intelligence. Regarding empathy, cyberaggressors obtained statistically significant group differences in three of these dimensions: perspective-taking, empathetic joy, and empathic stress. Finally, the empathy dimensions for the cybervictimization groups did not show significant mean differences, indicating that there was no statistical relationship between the degree of cybervictimization and the individual's empathy. These findings stress the relevance of emotion regulation in cyberviolence in students in adolescence and allow us to understand the different roles it plays for offenders and victims.
Project description:3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') releases serotonin and norepinephrine. MDMA is reported to produce empathogenic and prosocial feelings. It is unknown whether MDMA in fact alters empathic concern and prosocial behavior. We investigated the acute effects of MDMA using the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET), dynamic Face Emotion Recognition Task (FERT) and Social Value Orientation (SVO) test. We also assessed effects of MDMA on plasma levels of hormones involved in social behavior using a placebo-controlled, double-blind, random-order, cross-over design in 32 healthy volunteers (16 women). MDMA enhanced explicit and implicit emotional empathy in the MET and increased prosocial behavior in the SVO test in men. MDMA did not alter cognitive empathy in the MET but impaired the identification of negative emotions, including fearful, angry and sad faces, in the FERT, particularly in women. MDMA increased plasma levels of cortisol and prolactin, which are markers of serotonergic and noradrenergic activity, and of oxytocin, which has been associated with prosocial behavior. In summary, MDMA sex-specifically altered the recognition of emotions, emotional empathy and prosociality. These effects likely enhance sociability when MDMA is used recreationally and may be useful when MDMA is administered in conjunction with psychotherapy in patients with social dysfunction or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Project description:Although research on emotion regulation (ER) is developing, little attention has been paid to the predictive power of ER strategies beyond established constructs. The present study examined the incremental validity of the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; Gross and John, 2003), which measures cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, over and above the Big Five personality factors. It also extended the evidence for the measure's criterion validity to yet unexamined criteria. A university student sample (N = 203) completed the ERQ, a measure of the Big Five, and relevant cognitive and emotion-laden criteria. Cognitive reappraisal predicted positive affect beyond personality, as well as experiential flexibility and constructive self-assertion beyond personality and affect. Expressive suppression explained incremental variance in negative affect beyond personality and in experiential flexibility beyond personality and general affect. No incremental effects were found for worry, social anxiety, rumination, reflection, and preventing negative emotions. Implications for the construct validity and utility of the ERQ are discussed.
Project description:Facial expressions are deeply tied to empathy, which plays an important role during social communication. The eye region is effective at conveying facial expressions, especially fear and sadness emotions. Further, it was proved that subliminal stimuli could impact human behavior. This research aimed to explore the effect of subliminal sad, fearful and neutral emotions conveyed by the eye region on a viewer's empathy for pain using event-related potentials (ERP). The experiment used an emotional priming paradigm of 3 (prime: subliminal neutral, sad, fear eye region information) × 2 (target: painful, nonpainful pictures) within-subject design. Participants were told to judge whether the targets were in pain or not. Results showed that the subliminal sad eye stimulus elicited a larger P2 amplitude than the subliminal fearful eye stimulus when assessing pain. For P3 and late positive component (LPC), the amplitude elicited by the painful pictures was larger than the amplitude elicited by the nonpainful pictures. The behavioral results demonstrated that people reacted to targets depicting pain more slowly after the sad emotion priming. Moreover, the subjective ratings of Personal Distress (PD) (one of the dimensions in Chinese version of Interpersonal Reactivity Index scale) predicted the pain effect in empathic neural responses in the N1 and N2 time window. The current study showed that subliminal eye emotion affected the viewer's empathy for pain. Compared with the subliminal fearful eye stimulus, the subliminal sad eye stimulus had a greater impact on empathy for pain. The perceptual level of pain was deeper in the late controlled processing stage.
Project description:CONTEXT:Empathy is an essential aspect of clinical care, associated with improved patient satisfaction, increased adherence to treatment, and fewer malpractice complaints. Previous studies suggest that empathy declines during medical training. However, past research relied on a single narrowly operationalised, self-report measure of empathy. As empathy is a complex socio-emotional construct, it is critical to assess changes across its distinct components using multiple measures in order to better understand how it is influenced by medical training. METHODS:In a longitudinal study, medical students completed a series of self-report and behavioural measures twice per year during the first 3 years of their study (2012-2015). These included the previously used Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE), designed to assess empathy in the clinical context, the Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy (QCAE), designed to assess overall empathy and its main components, and behavioural measures of sensitivity to others' pain and understanding of others' emotions, both of which are important aspects of empathy. The employment of multiple measures allowed for a more complete assessment of medical students' empathy and related processes. RESULTS:In reflection of findings in previous work, students' empathy assessed by the JSPE decreased over training. However, on the QCAE, aspects of students' empathy, specifically overall cognitive empathy and its subcomponent perspective taking, and the emotion contagion subcomponent of affective empathy improved, whereas the remaining subcomponents remained stable. During medical school, students also exhibited comparable growth in their understanding of others' emotions and increased sensitivity to others' pain. CONCLUSIONS:Changes in empathy during medical school cannot be simply characterised as representing an overall decline. Indeed, aspects of empathy thought to be valuable in positive physician-patient interactions improve during training. Overall, this study points to the importance of assessing the distinct components of empathy using multiple forms of measurement in order to better understand the mechanisms involved in empathy changes in medical practice.