Empathy is a stable predictor of compassionate emotions independent of an attribution of responsibility manipulation

André Rabelo, Ronaldo Pilati


The goal of this research was to determine whether individual differences in empathy and personal distress were robust predictors of compassionate emotions and whether compassionate emotions mediated the effect of attribution of responsibility on intention to help. Four hypotheses about direct and indirect associations between these variables were tested. We manipulated normative attribution of responsibility in an experimental scenario in which the participant is asked to help an individual catch up on missed lectures. Participants (N=627), were randomly assigned to one of the two attribution conditions. The results showed that empathy was a robust predictor of compassionate emotions and that compassionate emotions mediated the effect of attribution of responsibility on intention to help. Importantly, we found that empathy was a stronger predictor of compassionate emotions than attribution of responsibility. The results confirmed our hypothesis that prosocial dispositional variables predict whether an individual will experience compassionate emotions in certain situations. We conclude that models of prosocial decision-making and attributions in social situations should consider prosocial traits, such as empathy, as antecedents of compassionate emotions.

Palabras clave

prosocial behavior; empathy; compassionate emotions; attribution of responsibility; individual differences

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11144/Javeriana.upsy16-1.espc

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Copyright (c) 2017 André Rabelo André Rabelo, Ronaldo Pilati Ronaldo Pilati

Licencia de Creative Commons: Esta obra está registrada bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento 4.0 Internacional. Creado a partir de http://revistas.javeriana.edu.co/.