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Empathic accuracy: Measurement and potential clinical applications

Published inEmpathy in mental illness, Editors T.F.D. Farrow & P.W.R. Woodruff, p. 408-427
PublisherCambridge, MA : Cambridge University Press
Publication date2007

Introduction Empathic inference is the ‘everyday mind reading' that people do whenever they attempt to infer other people's thoughts and feelings. Empathic accuracy is the extent to which such everyday mind reading attempts are successful (Ickes, 1997, 2003). To put it simply, empathically accurate perceivers are those who are good at ‘reading' other people's thoughts and feelings. Empathic accuracy is a quintessential (indeed, perhaps the quintessential) aspect of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995; Ickes, 1997, 2003; Salovey & Mayer, 1989). The ability to accurately ‘read' other people's thoughts and feelings is a fundamental skill that affects people's social adjustment in many different domains of their lives (Goleman, 1995). For example, Crosby (2002) found that mothers who were more accurate in inferring their own child's thoughts and feelings had children with more positive self-concepts as family members. And with regard to people's dating and marriage relationships, Simpson et al. (2001) found evidence that accurately ‘reading' your partner in order to anticipate a need, avert a conflict, or keep a small problem from escalating into a large one is likely to be healthy and adaptive (Ickes et al., 2005; Simpson et al., 2001, 2003). Empathic accuracy is a subarea of interpersonal perception research – a field of study that has a long tradition in psychology (Heider, 1944; Taft, 1955). In the early days of its study, researchers tended to focus on bias, error and inaccurate person perception rather than on accuracy.

  • Empathy
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
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Citation (ISO format)
SCHMID MAST, Marianne, ICKES, William. Empathic accuracy: Measurement and potential clinical applications. In: Empathy in mental illness. Cambridge, MA : Cambridge University Press, 2007. p. 408–427. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511543753.023
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