Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 461–470 | Cite as

Trait-level emotion regulation and emotional awareness predictors of empathic accuracy

  • Nathaniel S. EcklandEmail author
  • Tammy English
Original Paper


Empathic accuracy (or how accurately a person perceives another’s emotions) has important implications for how individuals navigate their social world. We examined the role of two emotion-related traits (emotion regulation and emotional awareness) in predicting empathic accuracy and how these relationships may vary across racial groups. Undergraduate participants (N = 98) watched videos of European-American, Asian-American, and African-American targets playing a frustrating game and made continuous ratings of the target’s emotion. To assess empathic accuracy, these ratings were compared to targets’ self-reported emotion. We found mixed support for our initial hypotheses, such that individual differences in reappraisal and attention to emotions predicted accuracy under certain conditions. Exploratory analyses suggested suppression and emotional clarity have an interactive effect in predicting accuracy. This study provides evidence for the importance of individual differences in attention to and regulation of one’s own emotions for interpersonal sensitivity, as well as the importance of context for these emotion-related traits.


Empathic accuracy Emotion regulation Emotional awareness 



We thank Katlin Bentley for helpful comments on previous drafts of this manuscript and Daniel Nemer for help with computer programming.


The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Supplementary material

11031_2018_9741_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological & Brain SciencesWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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