Personality and Socialization Correlates of Vicarious Emotional Responding

Nancy Eisenberg, Richard Fabes, Mark Schaller, Paul Miller, Gustavo Carlo, Rick Poulin, Cindy Shea, Rita Shell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


The relations of personality and family characteristics to adults' negative vicarious emotional responses to sympathy and distress films were examined. Ss reported more sympathy and less personal distress and exhibited less skin conductance as well as heart rate deceleration when viewing a sympathy-evoking film. Dispositional emotional intensity and fantasy empathy were associated with greater self-reported emotional responding and higher skin conductance. Dispositional perspective taking and personal distress were positively and negatively correlated, respectively, with reported vicarious responding to the sympathy film when Ss were administered instructions to imagine the emotions of those in the films. Family cohesiveness was associated with reported sympathy and sadness in reaction to the sympathy film, whereas the expression of negative subordinate and positive emotional states in the home of origin was associated with women's reported responsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-470
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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