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An emotion-differentiated perspective on empathy with the emotion specific empathy questionnaire

Abstract

Empathy refers to the thoughts and feelings of one individual in response to the observed (emotional) experiences of another individual. Empathy, however, can occur toward persons experiencing a variety of emotions, raising the question of whether or not empathy can be emotion specific. 

This paper discusses theoretical and empirical support for the emotion specificity of empathy. We present a new measure, the Emotion Specific Empathy questionnaire, which assesses affective and cognitive empathy for the six basic emotions. This paper presents the measure's psychometric qualities and demonstrates, through a series of models, the discriminant validity between emotion specific empathies suggesting empathy is emotion specific. Results and implications are discussed.


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