Empathic Accuracy: Age Differences from Adolescence into Middle Adulthood

Kunzmann, U., Wieck, C. & Dietzel, C., 2018, In : Cognition and Emotion. 32, 8, p. 1611-1624 14 p.

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  • Empathic accuracy age differences from adolescence into middle adulthood

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  • Ute Kunzmann
  • Cornelia Wieck
  • Cathrin Dietzel
This study investigated age differences in empathic accuracy, the ability to correctly perceive others’ emotions, in a sample of 151 boys and men from three age groups: adolescents (Mage = 16 years, SD = 1.04), young adults (Mage = 29 years, SD = 2.78), and middle-aged adults (Mage = 50 years, SD = 3.07). All participants viewed nine newly developed film clips, each depicting a boy or a man reliving one of three emotions (anger, sadness, or happiness), while talking about an autobiographical memory. Adolescents and middle-aged men were less accurate than young men, and these age differences were associated with parallel age differences in fluid-mechanical abilities. In addition, age differences in vocabulary, one indicator of crystallized-pragmatic intelligence, were associated with age differences in empathic accuracy in adolescent and young, but not middle-aged, men. Within the limitations of cross-sectional data, this study provides evidence for the idea that empathic accuracy is an effortful task that requires cognitive resources and, thus, may show a normative increase until young adulthood followed by periods of stability and decline in subsequent decades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1624
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number8
Early online date1-Feb-2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 48599263