Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 458–468 | Cite as

Sympathy and Tenderness as Components of Dispositional Empathic Concern: Predicting Helping and Caring Behaviors

  • Belén López-PérezEmail author
  • Pilar Carrera
  • Luis Oceja
  • Tamara Ambrona
  • Eric Stocks


Recently, empathic concern was separated into the components of sympathy and tenderness (Lishner et al. 2011). So far, these two emotional experiences have been assessed as episodic emotional responses, as the existent dispositional measures remain blind to such distinction. The aim of the present research is to develop and validate a dispositional measure that captures the personal disposition to feel sympathy, tenderness, and personal distress. This new scale is called Sympathy, Tenderness and Distress Dispositional Scale (SyTeD). In Study 1, we developed and tested the internal consistency and factor structure of the English version of the scale in the United States. In Study 2, we translated the scale into Spanish and tested its content and criterion validity in Spain. In Study 3, we tested the predictive validity of the sympathy-tenderness distinction within a helping vs. a care-based scenario in the United Kingdom (SyTeD-English version). In Study 4, we tested the predictive validity of the sympathy-tenderness distinction in a real helping situation in Spain (SyTeD-Spanish version). The results across these four studies suggest that the SyTeD is a useful measure of dispositional sympathy and tenderness that allows studying further different types of prosocial behavior (i.e., help vs. care).


Sympathy Tenderness Personal distress Care Help Questionnaire 



This research was supported by grants AP2008-00065 and PSI 2014-53321P from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports. We would like to thank Dr. Daniel Batson and Dr. Michaela Gummerum for their helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research was funded by grants AP2008–00065 and PSI 2014-53321P from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports.

Conflict of Interests

The authors do not have any conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

The research conducted has obtained ethical approval from the authors’ institution and were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

The different studies have been carried after obtaining informed consent from the participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Belén López-Pérez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pilar Carrera
    • 2
  • Luis Oceja
    • 2
  • Tamara Ambrona
    • 2
  • Eric Stocks
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.University of Texas at TylerTylerUSA

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