Behavioral and Brain Sciences2013-09-05 2:57 AM

Changing Places: A Dual Judgment Model of Empathy Gaps in Emotional Perspective Taking

Abstract Emotional perspective taking involves people's attempts to estimate the attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of other people who are in different emotional situations. We propose a dual judgment model in which perspective takers first predict what their own reactions would be to different emotional situations, and, second, adjust these self-predictions to accommodate perceived differences between themselves and others. Prior literature has focused on egocentric biases in the second judgment, perceived differences and similarities between the self and others. We propose that significant errors in emotional perspective taking often arise from the first judgment, people’s predictions of what their own attitudes, preferences, and behaviors would be in different emotional situations. Specifically, people exhibit “empathy gaps,” underestimating how much emotional situations influence their own attitudes, preferences, and behaviors. We review evidence that provides support for (a) the dual judgment model of emotional perspective taking, (b) the occurrence of empathy gaps in self-predictions, and (c) the occurrence of empathy gaps in social predictions that are mediated by empathy gaps in self-judgments. We discuss implications of empathy gaps in emotional perspective taking for social behavior, social judgment, and for other forms of perspective taking and affective forecasting.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Behavioral and Brain Sciences is a peer-reviewed scientific journal of Open Peer Commentary established in 1978 by Stevan Harnad and published by Cambridge University Press. It is modeled on the journal Current Anthropology (which was established in 1959 by the University of Chicago anthropologist, Sol Tax).

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