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1 RQ 1: Has the Selected Contributing Factor Affected Empathy?

1 RQ 1: Has the Selected Contributing Factor Affected Empathy?

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378



M. Nishio and T. Maeno



Fig. 1 Relationship

between age and empathy

(***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01,

*p < 0.05)



Fig. 2 Sex differences in

empathy (***p < 0.001,

**p < 0.01, *p < 0.05)



examined reports of empathy across individuals within the Big Five categories with

an ANOVA. Intentional desire to be empathic differed across the Big Five traits

(F (29, 1608) ¼ 1.92, p < 0.01). A significant difference was shown for empathy

between personality classifications. The detail is shown in a Fig. 4.



3.1.5



Marital Status



The influence of marital status on empathy was assessed with a between-groups

t-test that included individuals who had or had not ever been married. Figure 5

showed that individuals who had been married at some point reported higher

empathy (t(1636) ¼ 2.90, p < 0.01).



A Questionnaire Assessment of the Contributing Factors to Empathy

Fig. 3 Relationship

between sex and age on

empathy (***p < 0.001,

**p < 0.01, *p < 0.05)



Fig. 4 Relationship

between empathy and Big

Five personality traits

(***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01,

*p < 0.05)



Fig. 5 Relationship

between marital status and

empathy (***p < 0.001,

**p < 0.01, *p < 0.05)



379



380



M. Nishio and T. Maeno



Fig. 6 Relationship

between childcare

experience and empathy

(***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01,

*p < 0.05)



3.1.6



Childcare Experience



The influence of childcare experience on empathy was analyzed by another

between-groups t-test. Figure 6 showed higher levels of empathy among those

who had childcare experience (t(1636) ¼ 2.49, p < 0.05).



3.1.7



Experience with Frustration



The influence of frustration on empathy was analyzed by another between-groups

t-test. Figure 7 showed that experiences of being frustrated did not affect empathy (t

(1636) ¼ 0.72, ns).



3.1.8



Desires Concerning Empathy



The influence of a desire to be empathic and reports of empathy was assessed with a

between-groups t-test. As shown in a Figs. 8, 9, and 10, those who desired to be

empathic had higher reports of empathy for all desire items: desire to be empathic

(t(1636) ¼ 9.70, p < 0.001), conscious of being easily empathic (t(1636) ¼ 11.56,

p < 0.001), and desire to affect other people emotively (t(1636) ¼ 12.36,

p < 0.001).



A Questionnaire Assessment of the Contributing Factors to Empathy

Fig. 7 Relationship

between empathy and

experience with frustration



Fig. 8 Relation between

empathy and desire to be

empathic (***p < 0.001,

**p < 0.01, *p < 0.05)



Fig. 9 Relation between

empathy and conscious of

being easily empathic

(***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01,

*p < 0.05)



381



382



M. Nishio and T. Maeno



Fig. 10 Relation between

empathy and desire to affect

other people emotively

(***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01,

*p < 0.05)



Table 2 Results of the multiple linear regression analysis

Explanatory variable

Desire to evoke emotions in others

Conscious of easily being empathic

Openness to experience

Desire to be empathic

Sex

Agreeableness

Openness to experience



3.2



β

.195

.145

.043

.122

.357

.039

.024



Standard β

.213

.144

.110

.136

.118

.102

.063



t

8.247

5.591

4.226

5.616

5.647

4.083

2.530



p value

.000

.000

.000

.000

.000

.000

.011



RQ 2: Do the Degrees of Incidence of Each Contributing

Factor Differ??



We confirmed a variety of contributing factors that influenced empathy, as well as

one that was not so influential. Next, we examined which factors were most

influential and the magnitude of that influence.

We conducted a multiple regression analysis to rank which factors w(e)re the

most influential. The following equation was used:

y ẳ a1 x1 ỵ a2 x2 ỵ a3 x3 an xn ỵ a0



1ị



Since the measurement scale for each item differed, each factor was standardized

for comparison.

Results are shown in Table 2. This 7-factor model accounted for 31 % of the

variance in reported empathy. In assessing the most influential factors, results

showed that the desire to be empathic was most influential, followed by personality

factors and sex.



A Questionnaire Assessment of the Contributing Factors to Empathy



383



4 Discussion

The purpose of the present study was to clarify the influence of multiple contributing factors related to the occurrence of empathy. For the current study, contributing factors of empathy, and the degree of each factor’s influence, were

investigated.

In terms of sex, results were similar to past studies [26, 27] showing that women

report more empathy or empathic behaviors compared to men.

With regard to age, overall, we did not observe age effects. However, when we

examined differences between specific age groups, significant results emerged.

Previous studies reported that there is an element that is related to age and an

element that is not so related with the element of empathy [26, 27]. We confirmed

that empathy had a significant difference by comparing each generation. We

considered that there are differences between the generations when it comes to

the elements of empathy that are of interest to them.

We also observed similar findings as past studies concerning the relationship

between personality and empathy [25]. The validity of the result was demonstrated

because previous studies reported the same results.

Regarding the influence of family variables on empathy, previous studies have

reported conflicting relationships [25]. This was also the case in the current study.

No previous study had examined the role of frustration on empathy. We considered that the frustration experience did not influence empathy because there is

nothing concerning remembrance of experiences in the four elements of empathy.

Furthermore, no previous study had examined how the desire to be empathic

affects empathy. Not surprisingly, we observed that a desire to be empathic was

influential on reports of empathy.

A multiple linear regression analysis showed that this desire was most influential

on empathy. Specifically, a desire to affect others emotively was most predictive of

empathy. We also observed that a connection between prosocial behavior and a

desire to affect others emotively was a strong influence on empathy. One potential

reason for why empathic desire had an influence on empathy is that empathic desire

motivates empathic behavior. This analysis also revealed that specific personality

characteristics also influenced empathy. We argue that specific personality predispositions strengthen empathic concerns, which lead to empathic behaviors. Since

such predispositions include curiosity with others and receptiveness toward external stimuli, empathic behaviors would likely result. Finally, in terms of sex, it is

likely that women are more socially responsive, which strengthens women’s

empathic concern and empathic behaviors. Since a woman generally has high social

responsiveness, there are the receptiveness and attentiveness to a stimulus.

Overall, the current study investigated the influence of various contributing

factors on empathy. Results showed that some factors were influential while others

were not. Moreover, we revealed a rank-order of factors predicting empathy. The



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