What being empathic means: Applying the transformation rule approach to individual differences in predicting the thoughts and feelings of prototypic and nonprototypic others

Rachel Karniol*, Dorith Shomroni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

To assess the influence of individual differences in empathy on predictions about the likely thoughts and feelings of prototypic and nonprototypic others, high school students completed Davis's (1983) IRI empathy scale and made predictions about young and old, male and female targets' likely thoughts and feelings. Predictions were categorized using Karniol's (1986) transformation rules and the variety of rules served as the dependent measure. A greater variety of rules was used for making predictions about old targets than young ones. Subject gender did not influence the variety of rules used for making predictions. As for individual differences in empathy, individuals high versus low in overall empathy, on the Perspective Taking subscale and on the Empathic Concern subscale, used a greater variety of transformation rules for making predictions about others' likely thoughts and feelings and differentiated more between targets in different social categories. The findings provide support for the view of empathy as a method of information gathering and illustrate the heuristic value of the transformation rule model for making predictions about others' thoughts and feelings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume29
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

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