The Role of Cultural Values and Race on Empathy towards Same and Other Race Individuals

Wong, Li-Min Elsa (2010). The Role of Cultural Values and Race on Empathy towards Same and Other Race Individuals Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Wong, Li-Min Elsa
Thesis Title The Role of Cultural Values and Race on Empathy towards Same and Other Race Individuals
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Kimberley Mallan
Total pages 99
Language eng
Subjects 380100 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Empathy is an affective reasoning ability that is crucial for the development of social competence. The present study examined whether differences in cultural perspectives (individualistic vs. collectivistic) and racial group membership impacts empathic responding. Caucasian and Asian participants (41 females, 30 males) read 4 different vignettes each describing a target character (Caucasian or Asian) who experienced distress related to a violation of either individualistic or collectivistic values. Racial group membership of the target was manipulated using either Caucasian or Asian names along with a photograph of the target with the relevant scenario. After reading each vignette, participants rated their emotional responses to the target's distress and completed questions designed to assess the extent to which the participant took the perspective of the target and perceived similarity with the target. Participants were divided post hoc into either "collectivist values" or "individualist values" groups based on a median split of their overall score on an established questionnaire measure of cultural values. It was predicted that when target race was the same as the participant's race and when target values matched the participant's values, then ratings of similarity, perspective taking and empathic responses would be higher compared to when target race and target values were different from the participant's own. These predictions were not supported, rather all participants tended to rate targets higher on the different dependent measures only when target's distress was due to a violation of individualistic values. The possible social impact of cultural values on empathy-related responses will be discussed.

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Created: Tue, 05 Apr 2011, 16:39:51 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology