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Empathic concern: Distinguishing between tenderness and sympathy

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      Abstract

      The present research proposes that empathic concern, as assessed by six items of the ERQ, consists of two separate emotions, i.e., tenderness and sympathy. To test this assumption, nine studies were conducted among, in total, 1,273 participants. In these studies participants were presented with a hypothetical scenario of someone in need, after which empathic concern was assessed. Factor analyses showed that, indeed, the ERQ items that assess empathic concern can be split up in two factors, that is, one reflecting sympathy and one reflecting tenderness. In addition, in line with previous studies, our research showed that, in response to a need-situation that reflects current needs, individuals scored higher on the ERQ factor reflecting sympathy than on the ERQ factor reflecting tenderness. Findings are discussed in terms of the practical and theoretical implications of distinguishing between sympathy and tenderness.

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      Emotion knowledge: further exploration of a prototype approach.

      Recent work on natural categories suggests a framework for conceptualizing people's knowledge about emotions. Categories of natural objects or events, including emotions, are formed as a result of repeated experiences and become organized around prototypes (Rosch, 1978); the interrelated set of emotion categories becomes organized within an abstract-to-concrete hierarchy. At the basic level of the emotion hierarchy one finds the handful of concepts (love, joy, anger, sadness, fear, and perhaps, surprise) most useful for making everyday distinctions among emotions, and these overlap substantially with the examples mentioned most readily when people are asked to name emotions (Fehr & Russell, 1984), with the emotions children learn to name first (Bretherton & Beeghly, 1982), and with what theorists have called basic or primary emotions. This article reports two studies, one exploring the hierarchical organization of emotion concepts and one specifying the prototypes, or scripts, of five basic emotions, and it shows how the prototype approach might be used in the future to investigate the processing of information about emotional events, cross-cultural differences in emotion concepts, and the development of emotion knowledge.
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        A measure of emotional empathy.

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands
            [2 ]University of Groningen and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
            [3 ]Department of Organisational Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands
            Contributors
            pieterneldijkstra@ziggo.nl
            Journal
            Motiv Emot
            Motiv Emot
            Motivation and Emotion
            Springer US (Boston )
            0146-7239
            1573-6644
            15 January 2012
            15 January 2012
            December 2012
            : 36
            : 4
            : 544-549
            23144514
            3491184
            9276
            10.1007/s11031-011-9276-z
            © The Author(s) 2012
            Categories
            Original Paper
            Custom metadata
            © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

            Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

            tenderness, empathic concern, sympathy

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