ERIC Number: ED250627
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Distress and Empathy: Two Qualitatively Distinct Vicarious Emotions with Different Motivational Consequences.
Batson, C. Daniel; And Others
The construct of empathy may be located conceptually at several different points in a network of social cognition and vicarious emotion. This paper discusses one specific form of emotional empathy, empathy in response to perceiving another person in need. First, evidence is reviewed suggesting that there are at least two distinct types of congruent vicarious emotional responses to perceiving another in need: feelings of personal distress (e.g., alarmed, upset, worried, disturbed, distressed, troubled, etc.), and feelings of empathy (e.g., sympathetic, moved, compassionate, tender, warm, softhearted, etc.). Next, evidence is reviewed suggesting that these two vicarious emotions have distinct motivational consequences. Whereas personal distress seems to evoke egoistic motivation to reduce one's own aversive arousal, as a traditional Hullian tension-reduction model would propose, empathy does not. Motivation evoked by empathy appears to be altruistic. The ultimate goal seems to be reduction of the other's need, not reduction of one's own aversive arousal. The emotional and motivational differentiation suggested by the empirical evidence seems more congruent with the analysis of the nature of emotion and motivation proposed long ago by McDougall than that proposed by Hull. (Author)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Kansas Univ., Lawrence. General Research Fund.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper prepared for the symposium "The Construct and Assessment of Empathy" at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (92nd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 24-28, 1984).