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How automatic and representational is empathy, and why

  • Martin L. Hoffman (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2002

The claim that empathy is both automatic and representational is criticized as follows: (a) five empathy-arousing processes ranging from conditioning and mimicry to prospective-taking show that empathy can be either automatic or representational, and only under certain circumstances, both; (b) although automaticity decreases, empathy increases with age and cognitive development; (c) observers' causal attributions can shift rapidly and produce more complex empathic responses than the theory allows.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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