If I Cry, Do You Care? Individual Differences in Empathy Moderate the Facilitation of Caregiving Words After Exposure to Crying Faces

Patricia Lockwood*, Abigail Millings, Erica Hepper, Angela C. Rowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Crying is a powerful solicitation of caregiving, yet little is known about the cognitive processes underpinning caring responses to crying others. This study examined (1) whether crying (compared to sad and happy) faces differentially elicited semantic activation of caregiving, and (2) whether individual differences in cognitive and emotional empathy moderated this activation. Ninety participants completed a lexical decision task in which caregiving, neutral, and nonwords were presented after subliminal exposure (24 ms) to crying, sad, and happy faces. Individuals low in cognitive empathy had slower reaction times to caregiving (vs. neutral) words after exposure to crying faces, but not after sad or happy faces. Results are discussed with respect to the role of empathy in response to crying others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Individual Differences
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Cognition

Keywords

  • crying faces
  • empathy
  • caregiving
  • lexical decision task
  • individual differences
  • FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
  • EMOTIONS
  • RECOGNITION
  • PERCEPTION
  • RESPONSES
  • QUOTIENT
  • BEHAVIOR
  • ADULTS

Cite this