ERIC Number: ED247519
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Cognitive Complexity and Empathy in Counseling.
Counseling is a dyadic interaction between client and counselor, in which their cognitive processes influence how they interact and communicate. To investigate the effect that a match of cognitive complexity between counselor and client has upon the counselor's empathy, 9 counselors and 27 clients participated in a study. After 7 weeks of counseling, all subjects completed an inventory of cognitive complexity, measuring five aspects of cognitive complexity: integration, differentiation, intolerance of ambiguity, intolerance of trait inconsistency, and category width. Cluster analysis was used to place the subjects into cognitively complex and cognitively simple groups. Each counselor then interviewed three clients for 28 to 38 minutes. At the end of each interview both the counselor and the client responded to an empathy inventory. The counseling interviews were audio-taped and rated by two trained judges to assess counselor empathy. An analysis of the results showed: (1) cognitively complex counselors were perceived by their clients as more empathetic than cognitively simple counselors; (2) a match between the cognitive complexity level of counselor and client did not increase the counselor's empathy; (3) clients were more accurate judges of a counselor's empathy than counselors themselves; and (4) the differentiation aspect of cognitive complexity was a more accurate discriminatory factor in distinguishing between counselors with high and low empathy scores. (Author/BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Counselors; Researchers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Cognitive Complexity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (68th, New Orleans, LA, April 23-27, 1984).