Antecedents of Empathic Capacity: Emotion Regulation Styles as Mediators between Controlling Versus Autonomy - Supportive Maternal Practices and Empathy

Maya Kalman-Halevi, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Guy Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research suggests that empathy may lead to either sympathy, involving emotional identification with another person, accompanied by caring and concern, or personal distress, that is emotional reaction to another's condition that is aversive and self-centered (Eisenberg et al., 2010). While the former frequently predicts prosocial behavior, the latter is hypothesized to predict it only when helping is the easiest way to alleviate the distress of the helper (Batson, 1991). Drawing on self-determination theory, we hypothesized that autonomy supportive parenting (taking the child’s perspective and providing choice) may predict the child’s integrative emotion regulation, and this may predict emotional identification with others in need (i.e., sympathy). In contrast, the autonomy suppressive practice of conditional regard may predict dysregulation of emotions, leading to personal distress when facing a close friend’s adversity. Participants included 147 college students and 147 close friends. Target participants reported perceptions of their mothers’ behaviour and their own emotion regulation styles, while close friends reported perceptions of target participants’ sympathy and personal distress responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-72
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Emotional Education
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • autonomy support
  • emotion regulation
  • empathetic capacity
  • parental conditional regard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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