TRAMES 3, 6, 2002

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COLLECTIVISM AND EMPATHY IN THE CONTEXT OF PERSONALITY TRAITS

Anu Realo and Monika Luik

University of Tartu,
Concordia International University, Estonia .

Abstract. The current research was undertaken with an aim to provide empirical evidence to the proposed relationship between the constructs of empathy and collectivism. Accordingly, following the hierarchical model of collectivism (Realo, Allik, and Vadi 1997), the study focused upon the relations between collectivistic attitudes and empathy seen as a multidimensional construct consisting of both affective and cognitive components (Davis 1980). The results showed that links between the collectivistic attitudes and empathy were first and foremost due to correlations between the affective aspect of empathy and the family- and society-related forms of collectivism. To test whether and to what extent the hypothesized relationship between empathy and collectivistic attitudes may be attributed to their relations with Agreeableness, we also examined relations of collectivism and empathy with underlying personality dimensions. The results of multiple regression suggested that at least the affective aspect of empathy has an independent contribution to the prediction of the general collectivism index COL and that the NEO-PI-R domain Agreeableness does not fully explain the relationship between the constructs of collectivism and affective aspect of empathy. Yet, the established empirical relationship between empathy and collectivistic attitudes in our research was somewhat weaker than one would expect on the basis of the relevant theoretical statements nerely certain forms of collectivistic attitudes appeared to be moderately and selectively related to certain specific manifestations of empathy the results of our study suggest that empathy, on the whole, cannot be considered as an essential attribute of collectivism, at least at the personal level.

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