Motor, affective and cognitive empathy in adolescence: Interrelations between facial electromyography and self-reported trait and state measures

J. van der Graaff, W.H.J. Meeus, M. de Wied, A. van Boxtel, P.A.C. van Lier, H.M. Koot, S.T.J. Branje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined interrelations of trait and state empathy in an adolescent sample. Self-reported affective trait empathy and cognitive trait empathy were assessed during a home visit. During a test session at the university, motor empathy (facial electromyography), and self-reported affective and cognitive state empathy were assessed in response to empathy-inducing film clips portraying happiness and sadness. Adolescents who responded with stronger motor empathy consistently reported higher affective state empathy. Adolescents' motor empathy was also positively related to cognitive state empathy, either directly or indirectly via affective state empathy. Whereas trait empathy was consistently, but modestly, related to state empathy with sadness, for state empathy with happiness few trait–state associations were found. Together, the findings provide support for the notion that empathy is a multi-faceted phenomenon. Motor, affective and cognitive empathy seem to be related processes, each playing a different role in the ability to understand and share others' feelings.
Keywords: Trait empathy, State empathy, Motor mimicry, Facial EMG, Emotion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-761
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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