Are age related changes in empathy associated with psychosocial functioning?

Bint, Anne-Louise (2013). Are age related changes in empathy associated with psychosocial functioning? Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Bint, Anne-Louise
Thesis Title Are age related changes in empathy associated with psychosocial functioning?
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Julie Henry
Total pages 118
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Empathy, comprised of emotion recognition, cognitive empathy and affective empathy, is essential for successful interpersonal functioning. Our social interactions rely critically on all three types of empathic capacity – i.e., our ability to identify, understand and appropriately respond to the social cues encountered in our environment. Of concern therefore, is the substantial body of evidence indicating age related declines in some aspects of empathic ability. Despite this, no ageing study has assessed all three components of empathy concurrently. Furthermore, there is a lack of ageing literature investigating how these declines relate to domains of psychosocial functioning such as psychological wellbeing, social functioning and social reasoning. Thus, the aim of the present study was to determine the nature and magnitude of the relationship between empathic abilities and real world psychosocial outcomes across the adult lifespan. 30 younger and 30 older adults were tested in a within subjects, quasi-experimental design. While the present study found age related declines in emotion recognition, cognitive empathy was found to remain stable across the lifespan, and older adults exhibited an age related gain in affective empathy. Furthermore, psychological wellbeing was found to increase with older age, and both social functioning and social reasoning was found to remain stable despite advancing age. Taken together, there is little evidence to suggest that greater difficulties with empathic processing are associated with poorer psychosocial functioning, or that this relationship is more pronounced in older age.
Keyword age related changes
Psychosocial functioning

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Created: Thu, 12 Jun 2014, 09:36:47 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology