The Relations of Dispositional Regulation and Emotionality to Elders' Empathy-Related Responding and Affect while Volunteering

Nancy Eisenberg, Morris A. Okun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Researchers recently have proposed that various empathy-related reactions are differentially related to individual differences in emotional intensity and regulation. This idea was tested with a sample of elderly hospital volunteers. As predicted, dispositional sympathy was associated with high levels of both dispositional regulation and negative emotional intensity. Personal distress was linked with low regulation and high negative emotional intensity, and cognitive perspective taking was associated with high regulation. Perspective taking moderated the relation of emotional intensity to sympathy and personal distress. In addition, elders' negative affect when volunteering at a hospital was correlated with low regulation and high personal distress. In contrast, positive affect was correlated with high levels of regulation and dispositional sympathy. The results demonstrate that findings pertaining to vicarious emotional responding are generalizable to nonstudent populations engaged in planned, sustained helping behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-183
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of personality
Volume64
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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