Empathy in adolescence and young adulthood: evidence from atypical development, behaviour, and culture

Vilas Sanz, Sara Paloma (2017). Empathy in adolescence and young adulthood: evidence from atypical development, behaviour, and culture. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The concept of empathy is to date unclear, with evidence showing mixed results on the association between empathy and socio-emotional functioning. The aim of this thesis is to investigate cognitive and affective components of empathy and its association with emotional variables in typical and atypical populations, and discuss the impact of these emotional variables on social behaviour. Our findings demonstrated cross-cultural differences in emotional expressivity and emotion regulation in typically developing individuals, and provided evidence on the role of these variables as potential mediators in the relationship between empathy and indirect aggression. In addition, an empathy questionnaire was translated into the Spanish language and validated, providing a new tool to assess empathy. A behavioural task was developed to assess empathic accuracy, providing an ecologically valid measure of empathy. Our findings within clinical populations showed that offenders with substance abuse problems who reported higher levels of callous unemotional traits had greater probabilities of recidivism. Expressive suppression was found to be a potential protective factor for substance use initiation. In individuals with autism, our findings showed the existence of a general impairment in social perception, which was not explained by difficulties in empathy or visual perspective taking, and a cognitive deficit in empathy that seemed to be specific to the perspective taking subcomponent. Taken together, our results led to the discussion about the relevance of target treatments focused on the improvement of empathy and social perception abilities to overcome emotional difficulties while improving the quality of social relations.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: British Psychological Society, The University of Birmingham, The University of Birmingham
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/7665


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