SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

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.