Empathy-Related Responding: Associations with Prosocial Behavior, Aggression, and Intergroup Relations


  • Work on this chapter was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nancy Eisenberg, Department of Psychology, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104 [e-mail: Nancy.Eisenberg@asu.edu].


Empathy-related responding, including empathy, sympathy, and personal distress, has been implicated in conceptual models and theories about prosocial behavior and altruism, aggression and antisocial behavior, and intergroup relationships. Conceptual arguments and empirical findings related to each of these topics are reviewed. In general, there is evidence that empathy and/or sympathy are important correlates of, and likely contributors to, other-oriented prosocial behavior, the inhibition of aggression and antisocial behavior, and the quality of intergroup relationships. Applied implications of these findings, including prevention studies, are discussed, as are possible future directions.