Empathy and social functioning in late adulthood

Bailey, Phoebe E., Henry, Julie D. and Von Hippel, William (2008) Empathy and social functioning in late adulthood. Aging and Mental Health, 12 4: 499-503. doi:10.1080/13607860802224243

Author Bailey, Phoebe E.
Henry, Julie D.
Von Hippel, William
Title Empathy and social functioning in late adulthood
Journal name Aging and Mental Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1364-6915
Publication date 2008-07-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/13607860802224243
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 12
Issue 4
Start page 499
End page 503
Total pages 5
Editor Dan G. Blazer
Martin W. Orrell,
Place of publication Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject C1
170113 Social and Community Psychology
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Formatted abstract
Objectives: Both cognitive and affective empathy are regarded as essential prerequisites for successful social functioning, and recent studies have suggested that cognitive, but not affective, empathy may be adversely affected as a consequence of normal adult aging. This decline in cognitive empathy is of concern, as older adults are particularly susceptible to the negative physical and mental health consequences of loneliness and social isolation. Method: The present study compared younger (N = 80) and older (N = 49) adults on measures of cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and social functioning.

Results: Whilst older adults' self-reported and performance-based cognitive empathy was significantly reduced relative to younger adults, there were no age-related differences in affective empathy. Older adults also reported involvement in significantly fewer social activities than younger adults, and cognitive empathy functioned as a partial mediator of this relationship.

Conclusion: These findings are consistent with theoretical models that regard cognitive empathy as an essential prerequisite for good interpersonal functioning. However, the cross-sectional nature of the study leaves open the question of causality for future studies.
Keyword Aging
Cognitive empathy
Affective empathy
Interpersonal functioning
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 52 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 26 Mar 2009, 02:41:02 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology