An investigation of the divergences and convergences of trait empathy across two cultures

Journal of Moral Education 48 (2):1-16 (2019)
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The extent to which individuals with a variety of cultural backgrounds differ in empathic responsiveness is unknown. This article describes the differences in trait empathy in one independent and one interdependent society (i.e., the US and Iran, respectively). The analysis of data collected from self-reported questionnaires answered by 326 adults indicated a significant difference in the cognitive component of empathy concerning participants’ affiliation to either egocentric or socio-centric society: Iranian participants with interdependent cultural norms, reported higher cognitive empathy compared to American participants who share independent cultural norms. In line with previous studies, gender differences were observed in all subscales of questionnaires, except the Empathy Quotient (EQ). Female participants demonstrated more empathy than males in both samples. Implications for understanding the cross-cultural differences of various components of empathy are discussed.

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