The role of anxiety and perspective-taking strategy on affective empathic responses

Negd, Monika, Mallan, Kimberley M., & Lipp, Ottmar V. (2011) The role of anxiety and perspective-taking strategy on affective empathic responses. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(12), pp. 852-857.

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Empathy is an important pro-social behaviour critical to a positive clientetherapist relationship. Therapist anxiety has been linked to reduced ability to empathise and lower client satisfaction with therapy. However, the nature of the relationship between anxiety and empathy is currently unclear. The current study investigated the effect of experimentally-induced anxiety on empathic responses elicited during three different perspective-taking tasks. Perspective-taking was manipulated within-subjects with all participants (N¼ 52) completing imagine-self, imagine-other and objective conditions. A threat of shock manipulation was used to vary anxiety between-subjects. Participants in the threat of shock condition reported higher levels of anxiety during the experiment and lower levels of empathyrelated distress for the targets than participants in the control condition. Perspective-taking was associated with higher levels of empathy-related distress and concern compared to the objective condition. The present results suggest that perspective-taking can to a large extent mitigate the influence of heightened anxiety on an individual’s ability to empathise.

Impact and interest:

7 citations in Scopus
6 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 48677
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: empathy, perspective-taking
DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.09.008
ISSN: 0005-7967
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Crown Copyright 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Behaviour Research and Therapy
Volume 49, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 852–857.
Deposited On: 16 Feb 2012 06:44
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015 19:18

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