The relations of emotionality and regulation to dispositional empathy-related responding among volunteers-in-training

Morris A. Okun, Stephanie A. Shepard, Nancy Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Individual differences in emotional intensity and regulation have been postulated to influence vicarious emotional responding, which, in turn, has been posited to affect helping behavior. These relations were investigated in a sample consisting primarily of adults who were training to be volunteers at two sites (N = 200). As hypothesized, negative emotional intensity was a positive predictor of dispositional sympathy and personal distress but did not predict perspective taking. Consistent with our expectations, regulation was a positive predictor of dispositional sympathy and perspective taking and was an inverse predictor of personal distress. The relation between negative emotional intensity and dispositional personal distress was moderated by perspective taking; as perspective taking increased, the strength of the positive relation between negative emotional intensity and personal distress decreased. In an exploratory analysis, the likelihood of starting a volunteer position was observed to decrease as negative emotional intensity increased,

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000



  • Emotional intensity
  • Empathy
  • Personal distress
  • Perspective taking
  • Regulation
  • Sympathy
  • Volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology

Cite this