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I do not know you and I am keeping it that way: Attachment avoidance and empathic accuracy in the perception of strangers

Authors

  • OR IZHAKI-COSTI,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Hebrew University
      Yaacov Schul or Or Izhaki-Costi, Department of Psychology, the Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel, e-mail: yschul@huji.ac.il (YS); or.izhaki@mail.huji.ac.il (OI-C).
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    • Or Izhaki-Costi and Yaacov Schul, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

  • YAACOV SCHUL

    Corresponding author
    1. The Hebrew University
      Yaacov Schul or Or Izhaki-Costi, Department of Psychology, the Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel, e-mail: yschul@huji.ac.il (YS); or.izhaki@mail.huji.ac.il (OI-C).
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Or Izhaki-Costi and Yaacov Schul, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


  • This study was generously supported by the Israel Foundation Trustees grant to OI-C and the Israel Science Foundation grant to YS. The authors would like to thank Dr. Nilly Mor for comments on an earlier version of this article and Maytal Bar-Hai, Merav Buchbletter, and Aura Fraiman Lewis for their assistance in coding the data. The research reported in this article was part of a dissertation submitted by Or Izhaki-Costi to the Hebrew University.

Yaacov Schul or Or Izhaki-Costi, Department of Psychology, the Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel, e-mail: yschul@huji.ac.il (YS); or.izhaki@mail.huji.ac.il (OI-C).

Abstract

Two studies examined the association between attachment avoidance and empathic accuracy when perceiving strangers. In Study 1, participants with high attachment avoidance revealed lower accuracy in identifying the thoughts and feelings of their interaction partner compared with participants with low attachment avoidance. High-avoidance participants also tended to mentally distance themselves from the other and thought less often about him or her. Study 2 replicated the pattern of lower empathic accuracy for high-attachment-avoidance participants, this time, when respondents did not actually interact with the target of perception. We discuss reasons for why people with high attachment avoidance might show impaired empathic accuracy while interacting with strangers. We also consider more general influences of attachment avoidance on perception processes and, consequently, on social success.

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