The effects of perspective taking on empathy-related responses for college students higher in callous traits

Courtney N. Beussink, Amy A. Hackney, Michael J. Vitacco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although it has been established that utilizing perspective taking leads to increases in empathy-related responses, it remains unknown how these techniques affect individuals who experience deficits in empathy (e.g., those higher in callousness). The purpose of this study was to investigate the utility of perspective taking in increasing empathy-related responses (e.g., congruent affective reactions, empathic concern, perceived closeness with the target, and prosocial helping behaviors) for individuals lower and higher in the callous affect (CA) traits of psychopathy. In this study, 296 college students listened to a radio broadcast about a target in need with specific perspective taking instructions (e.g., “feel with target” or “imagine-self as target”) and completed measures assessing empathy-related responses. Results indicate individuals higher in CA are lower in empathy-related responses, but this deficit may be tempered by asking these individuals to imagine themselves as the target compared to asking them to feel the emotions of the target. These findings increase our understanding of the relationship between CA, perspective taking, and empathy-related responses and imply that perspective taking techniques may have differential effects among those higher in CA traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Callous affect
  • College students
  • Empathy
  • Empathy-related responses
  • Perspective taking
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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