Why does empathy matter?

Empathy is associated with:

  • Prosocial behaviors, like helping others and being cooperative (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987; McMahon, Wernsman, & Parnes, 2006)

  • Morality (Pizarro, 2000)

  • Overall well-being (Garaigordobil, Cruz, & Pérez, 2003)

  • Resilience (Leontopoulo, 2010)

  • Academic success (Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009)

Lack of empathy is associated with:

  • Bullying and victimization (Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006)

  • Aggression (Lovett &  Sheffield, 2007)

  • Pathology (Kostić, Nešić, Stanković, Žikić, & Marković, 2016)

  • Criminality (Jolliffe & , Farrington, 2004)


Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. A. (1987). The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 91–119. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.101.1.91


McMahon, S. D., Wernsman, J., & Parnes, A. L. (2006). Understanding prosocial behavior: The impact of empathy and gender among African American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 135–137. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.10.008


Pizarro, D. (2000). Nothing more than feelings? The role of emotions in moral judgment. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 30, 355–375. doi:10.1111/1468-5914.00135


Garaigordobil, M., Cruz, S., & Pérez, J. I. (2003). Correlational and predictive analysis of self-concept with other behavioral, cognitive and emotional factors of personality during adolescence. Estudios de Psicología, 24(1), 113–134. doi:10.1174/021093903321329102


Leontopoulou, S. (2010). An exploratory study of altruism in Greek children: Relations with empathy, resilience and classroom climate. Psychology, 1, 377–385. doi:10.4236/psych.2010.15047


Spinrad, T. L., & Eisenberg, N. (2009). Empathy, prosocial behavior, and positive development in schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 119–129). New York, NY: Routledge.


Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006). Examining the relationship between low empathy and bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 32(6), 540–550. doi:10.1002/ab.20154


Lovett, B. J., & Sheffield, R. A. (2007). Affective empathy deficits in aggressive children and adolescents: A critical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 1–13. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2006.03.003


Kostić, J. S., Nešić, M., Stanković, M., Žikić, O., & Marković, J. (2016). Evaluating empathy in adolescents with conduct disorders. Military Medical and Pharmaceutical Journal of Serbia, 73(5), 429–434. doi:10.2298/vsp150121031k


Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2004). Empathy and offending: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9, 441–476. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2003.03.001