Current Psychology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 221–240 | Cite as

Emotional empathy and associated individual differences

  • Albert Mehrabian
  • Andrew L. Young
  • Sharon Sato


Emotional empathic tendency is defined as an individual’s characteristic inclination to respond with emotions similar to those of others who are present. Within a three-dimensional framework for describing temperament, more empathic persons were found to be more arousable, and secondarily, more pleasant. Greater skin conductance and heart-rate responses of more empathic persons to emotional stimuli confirmed their greater arousability. Also, more empathic individuals were more emotional, evidenced by their greater tendency to weep. Males were found consistently to be less empathic than females. Compared with parents of low-empathy subjects, those of high-empathy subjects were found to spend more time with their children, display more affection for them, and to be verbally more explicit about feelings. Also, more emphatic mothers were more tolerant of infant cries and were less prone to engage in child abuse. High-empathy, compared with low-empathy, subjects engaged more in altruistic behaviors, were less aggressive, more affiliative, rated positive social traits as more important, scored higher on measures of moral judgment, and volunteered more to help others. A modified Emotional Empathic Tendency Scale (EETS) for children correlated negatively with teacher ratings of child aggressiveness.


Current Psychology Emotional Empathy Empathy Score Prosocial Orientation Empathic Tendency 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert Mehrabian
    • 1
  • Andrew L. Young
    • 1
  • Sharon Sato
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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