Empathy and Bullying: Exploring the Influence of Callous-Unemotional Traits
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- Muñoz, L.C., Qualter, P. & Padgett, G. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2011) 42: 183. doi:10.1007/s10578-010-0206-1
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Although knowing and feeling the emotions of other people might result in less bullying, we argue that not caring about these feelings will also be important. That is, what good is empathy, if one does not care about the feelings or values of others? We examined self-reports of callous-unemotional traits (CU: Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits), bullying, and empathy in 201 children (ages 11–12 years). Results show children high on CU to be lowest in affective empathy and highest in direct bullying. While all subscales of the ICU were related to affective empathy, only the uncaring subscale was uniquely related to cognitive empathy. Empathy did not explain differences in bullying when taking into account CU traits. Therefore, failing to care about others is more important than empathy for explaining the direct and indirect bullying these children take part in. Implications for targeting different forms of empathy in treatment are considered.