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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 6/2015

05-12-2014 | Original Article

Uncovering the interaction between empathetic pain and cognition

Auteurs: Kesong Hu, Zhiwei Fan, Shuchang He

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 6/2015

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Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that empathizing with pain involves both cognitive and affective components of pain. How does empathetic pain impact cognition? To investigate this question, in the present study, participants performed a classic color–word Stroop task that followed a pain portraying or a corresponding control image. We found that observing pain experience in another had a basic slowing down effect on Reaction times (RTs) during neutral Stroop trials. Further, it affected cognition in a way that it decreased interference and increased facilitation. Moreover, our findings revealed that RTs during the incongruent and congruent trials were essentially unchanged by pain observing (empathy vs. control). The data are best accounted by a two-opposing effect model that empathetic pain impacts cognition through two different ways: it slows down performance in general, and facilitates performance during incongruent and congruent trials in particular. In this way, the present study also lends support to an idea that all components of empathy should be understood from an integrative approach.
Voetnoten
1
For the present study, we also looked at the mean RT data for all participants. In fact, the median and mean RTs produced similar results, indicating that the data pattern did not arise from slow response on trials during empathetic condition. For a similar approach, see Bindemann, Burton, Hooge, Jenkins & de Haan, (2005), Schlaggar et al., (2002), Tamás Kincses et al., (2008), and Tipper, Driver and Weaver, (1991).
 
2
Stroop facilitation effect is generally small, unstable and often referred to as “fragile” (Kalanthroff & Henik, 2013; MacLeod & MacDonald, 2000). Therefore, the non-significant Stroop facilitation effect here was not surprising. One reason perhaps is that in the present study, the neutral stimulus was a cross “X” (for a discussion, see MacLeod, 1991, p172).
 
3
We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for pointing this out to us.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Uncovering the interaction between empathetic pain and cognition
Auteurs
Kesong Hu
Zhiwei Fan
Shuchang He
Publicatiedatum
05-12-2014
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 6/2015
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0634-9