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The role of cognitive and affective empathy in spouses' support interactions: an observational study

(2016) PLOS ONE. 11(2).
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Abstract
The present study examined how support providers' empathic dispositions (dispositional perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress) as well as their situational empathic reactions (interaction-based perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress) relate to the provision of spousal support during observed support interactions. Forty-five committed couples provided questionnaire data and participated in two ten-minute social support interactions designed to assess behaviors when partners are offering and soliciting social support. A video-review task was used to assess situational forms of perspective taking (e.g., empathic accuracy), empathic concern and personal distress. Data were analyzed by means of the multi-level Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Results revealed that providers scoring higher on affective empathy (i.e., dispositional empathic concern), provided lower levels of negative support. In addition, for male partners, scoring higher on cognitive empathy (i.e., situational perspective taking) was related to lower levels of negative support provision. For both partners, higher scores on cognitive empathy (i.e., situational perspective taking) correlated with more instrumental support provision. Male providers scoring higher on affective empathy (i.e., situational personal distress) provided higher levels of instrumental support. Dispositional perspective taking was related to higher scores on emotional support provision for male providers. The current study furthers our insight into the empathy-support link, by revealing differential effects (a) for men and women, (b) of both cognitive and affective empathy, and (c) of dispositional as well as situational empathy, on different types of support provision.
Keywords
PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR, PROVISION, SOCIAL SUPPORT, GENDER-DIFFERENCES, ACCURACY, COUPLES, ADOLESCENTS, MARRIAGE, SEX, ADJUSTMENT

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Chicago
Verhofstadt, Lesley, Inge Devoldre, Ann Buysse, Michaël Stevens, Celine Hinnekens, William Ickes, and Mark Davis. 2016. “The Role of Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Spouses’ Support Interactions: An Observational Study.” Plos One 11 (2).
APA
Verhofstadt, Lesley, Devoldre, I., Buysse, A., Stevens, M., Hinnekens, C., Ickes, W., & Davis, M. (2016). The role of cognitive and affective empathy in spouses’ support interactions: an observational study. PLOS ONE, 11(2).
Vancouver
1.
Verhofstadt L, Devoldre I, Buysse A, Stevens M, Hinnekens C, Ickes W, et al. The role of cognitive and affective empathy in spouses’ support interactions: an observational study. PLOS ONE. SAN FRANCISCO: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE; 2016;11(2).
MLA
Verhofstadt, Lesley, Inge Devoldre, Ann Buysse, et al. “The Role of Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Spouses’ Support Interactions: An Observational Study.” PLOS ONE 11.2 (2016): n. pag. Print.
@article{7254506,
  abstract     = {The present study examined how support providers' empathic dispositions (dispositional perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress) as well as their situational empathic reactions (interaction-based perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress) relate to the provision of spousal support during observed support interactions. Forty-five committed couples provided questionnaire data and participated in two ten-minute social support interactions designed to assess behaviors when partners are offering and soliciting social support. A video-review task was used to assess situational forms of perspective taking (e.g., empathic accuracy), empathic concern and personal distress. Data were analyzed by means of the multi-level Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Results revealed that providers scoring higher on affective empathy (i.e., dispositional empathic concern), provided lower levels of negative support. In addition, for male partners, scoring higher on cognitive empathy (i.e., situational perspective taking) was related to lower levels of negative support provision. For both partners, higher scores on cognitive empathy (i.e., situational perspective taking) correlated with more instrumental support provision. Male providers scoring higher on affective empathy (i.e., situational personal distress) provided higher levels of instrumental support. Dispositional perspective taking was related to higher scores on emotional support provision for male providers. The current study furthers our insight into the empathy-support link, by revealing differential effects (a) for men and women, (b) of both cognitive and affective empathy, and (c) of dispositional as well as situational empathy, on different types of support provision.},
  articleno    = {e0149944},
  author       = {Verhofstadt, Lesley and Devoldre, Inge and Buysse, Ann and Stevens, Micha{\"e}l and Hinnekens, Celine and Ickes, William and Davis, Mark},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  journal      = {PLOS ONE},
  keyword      = {PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR,PROVISION,SOCIAL SUPPORT,GENDER-DIFFERENCES,ACCURACY,COUPLES,ADOLESCENTS,MARRIAGE,SEX,ADJUSTMENT},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {18},
  publisher    = {PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE},
  title        = {The role of cognitive and affective empathy in spouses' support interactions: an observational study},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149944},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2016},
}

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