Empathic perceptions of nursing students: Self-reported and actual ability

Authors

  • Dr. William Kunst-Wilson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dr. William Kunst-Wilson is an associate professor in the Research Area, School of Nursing, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Linda Carpenter, Ann Poser, and Ingrid Venohr were graduate students in the University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time this research was being conducted; they collected the data on undergraduate subjects as partial fulfillment of the research requirement for the Master of Science degree. Linda Carpenter is now a Senior Public Health Nurse and Ingrid Venohr is now a District Supervisor, both at the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Detroit, Garden City, Michigan. Dr. Kenneth Kushner is an assistant professor in the Family Practice Department, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.
    • Research Area, School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Linda Carpenter,

    1. Dr. William Kunst-Wilson is an associate professor in the Research Area, School of Nursing, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Linda Carpenter, Ann Poser, and Ingrid Venohr were graduate students in the University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time this research was being conducted; they collected the data on undergraduate subjects as partial fulfillment of the research requirement for the Master of Science degree. Linda Carpenter is now a Senior Public Health Nurse and Ingrid Venohr is now a District Supervisor, both at the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Detroit, Garden City, Michigan. Dr. Kenneth Kushner is an assistant professor in the Family Practice Department, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ann Poser,

    1. Dr. William Kunst-Wilson is an associate professor in the Research Area, School of Nursing, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Linda Carpenter, Ann Poser, and Ingrid Venohr were graduate students in the University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time this research was being conducted; they collected the data on undergraduate subjects as partial fulfillment of the research requirement for the Master of Science degree. Linda Carpenter is now a Senior Public Health Nurse and Ingrid Venohr is now a District Supervisor, both at the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Detroit, Garden City, Michigan. Dr. Kenneth Kushner is an assistant professor in the Family Practice Department, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ingrid Venohr,

    1. Dr. William Kunst-Wilson is an associate professor in the Research Area, School of Nursing, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Linda Carpenter, Ann Poser, and Ingrid Venohr were graduate students in the University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time this research was being conducted; they collected the data on undergraduate subjects as partial fulfillment of the research requirement for the Master of Science degree. Linda Carpenter is now a Senior Public Health Nurse and Ingrid Venohr is now a District Supervisor, both at the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Detroit, Garden City, Michigan. Dr. Kenneth Kushner is an assistant professor in the Family Practice Department, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kenneth Kushner

    1. Dr. William Kunst-Wilson is an associate professor in the Research Area, School of Nursing, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Linda Carpenter, Ann Poser, and Ingrid Venohr were graduate students in the University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time this research was being conducted; they collected the data on undergraduate subjects as partial fulfillment of the research requirement for the Master of Science degree. Linda Carpenter is now a Senior Public Health Nurse and Ingrid Venohr is now a District Supervisor, both at the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Detroit, Garden City, Michigan. Dr. Kenneth Kushner is an assistant professor in the Family Practice Department, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Clearly, one of the goals of nursing education is to enhance the empathic functioning of nursing students. In this study we examined one major component of empathic functioning — accuracy of empathic perceptions — in both undergraduate (n = 66) and graduate nursing students (n = 50) We predicted that actual ability (Kagan's Affective Sensitivity Scale) and self-perceived ability would vary as a positive function of educational level. The results supported the first prediction, even when the effects of the subjects' age and amount of prior nursing experience were controlled. Self-perceived ability, however, was not reliably related to educational level, although it did relate to actual ability. Compared with students in other “helping” professions, the students in this study appeared relatively empathic. Finally, students' perceptions of their difficulty in detecting and handling other particular feeling states suggest that nursing needs to take a more “affect-specific” approach to empathic functioning.

Ancillary