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Inhibition of Personally-Relevant Angry Faces Moderates the Effect of Empathy on Interpersonal Functioning

Title:

Inhibition of Personally-Relevant Angry Faces Moderates the Effect of Empathy on Interpersonal Functioning

Iacono, Vanessa, Ellenbogen, Mark A., Wilson, Alexa L., Desormeau, Philip and Nijjar, Rami (2015) Inhibition of Personally-Relevant Angry Faces Moderates the Effect of Empathy on Interpersonal Functioning. PLOS ONE, 10 (2). e0112990. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112990

Abstract

While empathy is typically assumed to promote effective social interactions, it can sometimes be detrimental when it is unrestrained and overgeneralized. The present study explored whether cognitive inhibition would moderate the effect of empathy on social functioning. Eighty healthy young adults underwent two assessments six months apart. Participants’ ability to suppress interference from distracting emotional stimuli was assessed using a Negative Affective Priming Task that included both generic and personally-relevant (i.e., participants’ intimate partners) facial expressions of emotion. The UCLA Life Stress Interview and Empathy Quotient were administered to measure interpersonal functioning and empathy respectively. Multilevel modeling demonstrated that higher empathy was associated with worse concurrent interpersonal outcomes for individuals who showed weak inhibition of the personally-relevant depictions of anger. The effect of empathy on social functioning might be dependent on individuals’ ability to suppress interference from meaningful emotional distractors in their environment.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Authors:Iacono, Vanessa and Ellenbogen, Mark A. and Wilson, Alexa L. and Desormeau, Philip and Nijjar, Rami
Journal or Publication:PLOS ONE
Date:19 February 2015
Funders:
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Concordia Open Access Author Fund
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1371/journal.pone.0112990
ID Code:980390
Deposited By: MARK ELLENBOGEN
Deposited On:04 Sep 2015 15:52
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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