Presenter's Name(s)

May AlbeeFollow

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Timothy Stickle

Graduate Student Mentors

Amanda Falcón

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

Presentation Title

The mediation of negative outcomes through empathy: an examination of anxiety and prosocial behavior

Time

9:00 AM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Symptoms of anxiety include hyperarousal. Specifically, anxiety is linked with hypervigilance to social cues. The aims of this study are to examine whether, 1) this form of cognitive arousal predicts problem solving or a hostile attribution bias (the assumption of negative intent in the behavior of others), and 2) these relationships are mediated by two aspects of empathy: empathic concern and perspective taking. We predicted that anxiety would be associated with higher levels of empathic concern and perspective taking. We ran four mediation models testing whether 1) the relationship between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias is mediated by empathic concern, 2) the relationship between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias is mediated by perspective taking, 3) the relationship between anxiety and a problem solving is mediated by empathic concern, and 4) the relationship between anxiety and problem solving is mediated by perspective taking. Our results indicated a positive association between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias; this relationship was significantly mediated by empathic concern. The direct effect of anxiety on problem solving was nonsignificant, but there was a positive effect when mediated by empathic concern. In contrast, there were no mediation effects of perspective taking. Though the hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal experienced by anxious individuals does not seem to predict perspective taking, it may aid their ability to empathize, thus allowing them to respond prosocially. These findings suggest that it is not sufficient to take the perspective of an individual to initiate prosocial behavior, one must be able to feel empathy.

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The mediation of negative outcomes through empathy: an examination of anxiety and prosocial behavior

Symptoms of anxiety include hyperarousal. Specifically, anxiety is linked with hypervigilance to social cues. The aims of this study are to examine whether, 1) this form of cognitive arousal predicts problem solving or a hostile attribution bias (the assumption of negative intent in the behavior of others), and 2) these relationships are mediated by two aspects of empathy: empathic concern and perspective taking. We predicted that anxiety would be associated with higher levels of empathic concern and perspective taking. We ran four mediation models testing whether 1) the relationship between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias is mediated by empathic concern, 2) the relationship between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias is mediated by perspective taking, 3) the relationship between anxiety and a problem solving is mediated by empathic concern, and 4) the relationship between anxiety and problem solving is mediated by perspective taking. Our results indicated a positive association between anxiety and a hostile attribution bias; this relationship was significantly mediated by empathic concern. The direct effect of anxiety on problem solving was nonsignificant, but there was a positive effect when mediated by empathic concern. In contrast, there were no mediation effects of perspective taking. Though the hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal experienced by anxious individuals does not seem to predict perspective taking, it may aid their ability to empathize, thus allowing them to respond prosocially. These findings suggest that it is not sufficient to take the perspective of an individual to initiate prosocial behavior, one must be able to feel empathy.