Is gender or gender-role orientation a better predictor of empathy in adolescence?

Rachel Karniol, Rivi Gabay, Yael Ochion, Yael Harari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To assess the relative contribution of gender and gender-role orientation to empathy and its development, 8th and 11th grade Israeli adolescents completed Davis' empathy scale and Bem's gender-role orientation inventory, which yields a femininity score and a masculinity score for each participant. With masculinity and femininity treated as a within subjects variable, masculinity/femininity interacted with grade, such that whereas masculinity in both boys and girls increased with grade, femininity decreased in girls and increased in boys. Empathy was unrelated to grade or to masculinity but was related to gender and to femininity. When the contribution of masculinity/femininity was covaried, empathy was found to be unrelated to gender. This pattern was found for three of the empathy subscales: Perspective Taking, Empathic Concern, and Personal Distress, which were positively correlated. On the basis of a median split, participants were then classified as Masculine, Feminine, Undifferentiated, or Androgynous. Androgynous individuals did not differ from Feminine individuals on any of the empathy subscales. The findings were discussed in terms of the socialization of emotions and gender-role orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalSex Roles
Volume39
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1998

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