ERIC Number: ED298375
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-May
Reference Count: 0
The Nature of Empathy: Discriminant Analyses.
Jegerski, Jane A.; Upshaw, Harry S.
Hoffman's (1975) theory holds that altruism is based on cognitive development and mechanisms for empathic distress present from birth, with the individual going through stages of personal distress, empathic concern, and perspective taking. The Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), a measure of empathy, contains four subscales: personal distress, empathic concern, perspective taking, and fantasy. The Hoffman model was tested using a Guttman scale structure and latent class methods applied to IRI responses. This study examined what theoretically relevant variables discriminate among the four latent classes of the unidimensional empathy model for people for whom the model has meaning, and how these variables appear differently in individuals for whom the model does not reflect their socialization history. Data obtained from 94 college students who had completed the Nurturance and Succorance subscales from the Personality Research Form, the shortened form of the Marlowe-Crowne scale, and the Helping Orientation Questionnaire were analyzed. The unidimensional model of empathy was validated against measures of other relevant variables. More mature individuals by the Hoffman criteria scored higher in nurturance, succorance, and social responsibility. The model did not predict the pattern of responses to the IRI measure of empathy for approximately one-half of the subjects. Findings suggest that these unscalable types, who exhibited more nurturance and less succorance than the Hoffman types, were not typically low in prosocial traits relative to peers, but that they had arrived at their developmental stage by a different socialization route. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (59th, Chicago, IL, May 7-9, 1987).