NCBI ROFL: Taking your place or matching your face: two paths to empathic embarrassment.

By ncbi rofl | December 12, 2011 7:10 pm

“Empathic responding may be elicited by different processes, depending on the available situational and affective cues. We investigated two such processes, perspective-taking and nonverbal mimicry. In Study 1, participants watched an embarrassed or unembarrassed confederate dancing to music while either remaining objective or engaging in perspective-taking. Both manipulations affected empathic embarrassment. Study 2 further examined the effects of targets’ embarrassment displays and observers’ prior experience with the situation upon spontaneous perspective-taking, expressive mimicry, and empathic embarrassment. Embarrassment displays increased mimicry, but also spontaneous perspective-taking and subsequent empathy. Prior experience moderated the effects of embarrassment displays on perspective-taking and empathy. Path analyses demonstrated that embarrassment displays exerted indirect effects on empathic embarrassment through both perspective-taking and mimicry. The results suggest that available affective and situational cues can activate different routes to empathy, and highlight the value of simultaneously investigating target- and observer-based sources of influence.”

Photo: flickr/Alex E. Proimos

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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