Resonance mechanism in empathic behavior: BEES, BIS/BAS and psychophysiological contribution

Michela Balconi, Adriana Bortolotti

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35 Citazioni (Scopus)


Empathy is related to the natural human ability to understand emotions and feelings of others, where a sort of “resonance” mechanism between the observer and the observed permits a direct form of understanding. The present study explored four different measures related to empathic behavior in a social context: autonomic behavior (skin conductance — SCR, and heart rate — HR), personal response to empathic scale (BEES), approach–withdrawal attitudes (BIS/BAS), and verbal self-report measures. Participants were presented with different interpersonal scene types (cooperation, non-cooperation, conflict, indifference), and they were required to empathize with them. Different autonomic response patterns were found as a function of the interpersonal situations: SCR and HR increased in case of conflictual and non-cooperative situations. This result was confirmed by self-rating measures on empathy, since emotional involvement and valence attributed to the scenes varied in concomitance with psychophysiological parameters. Third, high and low BEES subjects showed different empathic behavior: high empathic subjects were more responsive (on both self-report and autonomic response) to empathy-related situations than low empathic subjects. Finally, BIS and BAS attitudes demonstrated a significant relationship with both BEES and autonomic patterns: high BAS subjects were more responsive and empathic with positive, cooperative situations, whereas high BIS empathized with more negative, conflictual situations. The convergence of these multidimensional measures was discussed.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)298-304
Numero di pagine7
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2012


  • Autonomic measures
  • Empathy
  • Personality


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