Empathy and the salesperson: A multidimensional perspective



Prior studies of empathy have yielded conflicting findings regarding the effectiveness of empathy in improving salesperson performance. This article integrates a multidimensional conceptualization of empathy from the psychology literature with existing theory from marketing literature to suggest that perspective taking, empathic concern, emotional contagion, and controlling behaviors will differentially effect salesperson performance. Responses from a survey of business-to-business salespeople indicate that empathy has both positive and negative effects. Implications of the findings are explored. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.