Can’t get you out of my mind: Empathy, Distress, and Recurring Thoughts about a Person in Need

Stocks, E and Lopez-Perez, B. and Oceja, L. (2016) Can’t get you out of my mind: Empathy, Distress, and Recurring Thoughts about a Person in Need. Motivation and Emotion. (In Press)

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Research suggests that empathic concern and distress give rise to different patterns of helping behavior. It has been proposed that this difference is caused by the effects of these emotions on recurrent thoughts about the person in need. However, no research has directly investigated this potential explanation. To remedy this, we tested the hypotheses that distress, but not empathic concern, is associated with both anticipated recurring thoughts (Study 1) and experienced recurring thoughts (Study 2) about a victim. We also tested the hypothesis that distress is associated with thoughts about the victim, whereas empathic concern is associated with thoughts about the victim’s situation (Study 3), which is potentially a consequence of the motives associated with each emotion. Lastly, we assessed the causal relations between distress, empathic concern, and recurrent thoughts (Study 4). Overall, results demonstrate a distinctive, and important, pattern of associations among empathic concern, distress, and different forms of recurrent thoughts about an emotion-eliciting stimulus.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: The final publication is available at
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Belen Lopez-Perez
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2016 09:57
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016 09:57

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