ERIC Number: ED266357
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Mar
The Conditioning of Counter Empathy toward In-Group and Out-Group Members.
Englis, Basil G.
Research has shown that observers' vicarious emotional reactions to an in-group member's facial display of pleasure and pain are highly differentiated and empathetic, while responses to the expressive displays of an out-group member are relatively undifferentiated and indifferent. This study examines the effects of perceived group membership on vicarious emotional responses under conditions of symmetric (concordant) or asymmetric (discordant) contingencies between a coactor's expressive displays. Subjects (N=80) were male undergraduates paid for their participation in a study which they were told examined decision making. Subjects were told that a computer evaluated the scores of participants and made group assignments. Subjects performed decision-making tasks, with one-half of the subjects informed of a third participant (the coactor) involved. Subjects worked through a series of decisions for which they were rewarded with candy or punished by electrical shock. The coactor on videotape displayed pleasure or pain. During exposure to affectively relevant consequences (acquisition) empathetic and counter-empathetic responses were wholly determined by the contingencies operating in the situation, and appeared little affected by social categorization. The influence of group membership of a coactor acted to facilitate generalization of acquired empathy responses in response to members of an in-group following a cooperatively structured situation. (ABL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association (Boston, MA, March 21-24, 1985).