Eliciting Empathy for Adults in Chronic Pain through Autobiographical Memory Sharing
Article first published online: 2 OCT 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 27, Issue 1, pages 81–90, January/February 2013
How to Cite
Bluck, S., Baron, J. M., Ainsworth, S. A., Gesselman, A. N. and Gold, K. L. (2013), Eliciting Empathy for Adults in Chronic Pain through Autobiographical Memory Sharing. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 27: 81–90. doi: 10.1002/acp.2875
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 2 OCT 2012
Two studies (N = 80; N = 91) investigated whether sharing an autobiographical memory increases empathy for a person experiencing chronic pain. Across studies, empathy was assessed after reading a pain-related narrative of either a 25- or 85-year-old target and again after assignment to one of two recall conditions. Conditions involved recalling a pain-related autobiographical memory (Studies 1 and 2), or as comparisons, recalling the target's pain narrative (Study 1) or recalling a character in pain from a movie (Study 2). Looking across both studies, empathy levels appear to increase after sharing an autobiographical memory but not in the comparison conditions. Increases in empathy were related to trait-level agreeableness. When target-age differences emerged (Study 2), participants felt greater empathy for the older person. Findings are discussed in terms of the function of autobiographical memory in eliciting pro-social emotions such as empathy and implications for training empathic responding. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.