Empathy as Related to Personal Qualities, Career Choice, Acquisition of Knowledge, and Clinical Competence
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The link between empathy, personality, selected psychosocial variables, career choice, specialty interest, clinical competence, and patient outcomes is described.
Empirical research suggests that empathy correlates positively with prosocial and altruistic behaviors and with a number of desirable personal qualities that are conducive to relationship building, including sociability, social skills, likeability, flexibility, tolerance, emotional intelligence, moral judgment, sense of humor, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experiences, positive social influence, personal accomplishment, teamwork, and interprofessional collaboration.
A number of undesirable personal attributes that are detrimental to positive interpersonal relationships correlate negatively with empathy, including aggression, hostility, externalization, antisocial behaviors, depersonalization, depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, neurotic or psychotic disturbances, lying, stealing, physical abuse, and dogmatism. Also, linked to empathy are factors such as satisfaction with early maternal relationships, selection of a career in medicine for humanistic reasons, and attention to psychosocial issues in medicine.
Empirical findings suggest that scores on empathy are associated with indicators of clinical competence, and career choice. Health professions students and practitioners who choose the so-called people-oriented specialties are more likely to obtain higher average scores on empathy than those interested in the “procedure- or technology-oriented” specialties.
KeywordsPersonality Personal qualities Career choice Clinical competence Prosocial behavior Age People-oriented specialties Procedure- or technology-oriented specialties Patient outcomes
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