Sex Roles

, Volume 60, Issue 5–6, pp 387–398 | Cite as

Gender Roles and Empathic Accuracy: The Role of Communion in Reading Minds

  • Sean M. LaurentEmail author
  • Sara D. Hodges
Original Article


Although empathic accuracy is considered a stable skill, few individual difference measures consistently predict performance on Ickes’ (e.g., 2001) empathic accuracy measure. Because past work has shown that women are more empathically accurate than men when female gender roles are made salient before an empathic accuracy task, we hypothesized that self-reported communion and related variables might predict empathic accuracy. Participants (194 undergraduates) from a northwestern U.S. university completed an empathic accuracy task and self-report measures of communion and empathy. Communion and empathic concern predicted greater empathic accuracy, but only after controlling for socially desirable responding. The role of communion in empathic inference is discussed, along with the need to include measures of social desirability when examining correlates of empathic accuracy.


Gender roles Communion Empathic accuracy Empathy Social desirability 



The authors would like to thank Jennifer Freyd, Adam Kramer, Karyn Lewis, John Myers, Mike Myers, Rebecca Neel, and Gerard Saucier for their insightful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We would also like to thank Tim Mathews for serving as the experimenter and Carlie Ashcraft, Mary D’Anna, John Meyers, Rebecca Neel, Carissa Sharp, and Liana Vega for their help in coding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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