The role of emotionality and regulation in empathy-related responding

Nancy Eisenberg, Michelle Wentzel, Jerry D. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The constructs of emotionality and regulation are central to many current conceptualizations of temperament. In this article, the role of individual differences in emotionality and regulation in empathy-related responding (sympathy and personal distress) is discussed, and relevant research is reviewed. In general, sympathy has been linked to intense emotionality and high regulation. People prone to personal distress (a self-focused aversive response to another's emotions or situation) tend to be low in regulation and prone to intense and frequent negative emotions. Empathy-related responding generally is predicted better by the combination of emotionality and regulation than by either separately. Examples of interventions designed to promote empathy, sympathy, and prosocial behavior in which emotionality and regulation are targeted behaviors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-521
Number of pages16
Journal School Psychology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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