The effects of personal and outcome similarity on physiological and verbal response modes

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
William Martin Hay (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jacquelyn Gaebelein

Abstract: The concept of empathy in personality theory is typically discussed under the rubric of vicarious emotional arousal. Attempts to delineate the interpersonal determinants of empathetic responsiveness have focused on the perceived similarity between model and observer. Numerous studies have found that perceived similarity with a model enhances the vicarious empathetic response of observers in both physiological and self-report response modes. In these studies, however, no distinction was made between the effects of behavioral outcome similarity and personal (attribute/phenotypic) similarity. Recently, the operational definition of personal similarity has been experimentally questioned with the resultant conclusion that phenotypic similarity may actually be dependent upon fate-behavioral outcome expectancies. From this social learning perspective, perceived similarity acquires its arousal properties as a function of repeated analogous behavioral outcomes or consequences. In the present investigation the relative influence of personal similarity and behavioral-outcome similarity on vicarious empathetic arousal were examined. Sixteen females interacted successively with two confederates, experimentally defined as either personally similar or dissimilar. Within an experimental session a subject experienced four behavioral outcomes, two concordant and two disconcordant with the confederate's outcome. Each outcome was followed by measurement of changes in galvanic skin response and heart rate.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1975
Empathy $x Physiological aspects
Affect (Psychology) $x Testing

Email this document to