The association between interpersonal sensitivity, empathy, and agreeableness among younger and older adults

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Interpersonal sensitivity has been defined in the literature as a hypervigilance to changes in others' behavior and emotions during social interactions. Current theory suggests that individuals with elevated interpersonal sensitivity have diminished cognitive/affective empathy and behave in overly agreeable ways. However, it is theoretically plausible that individuals with elevated interpersonal sensitivity behave in less agreeable ways and have better empathy instead. The current study used a series of hierarchical linear regression analyses to determine the direction of association between interpersonal sensitivity, cognitive/affective empathy, and agreeableness. A sample of N=217 healthy younger and older adults completed a series of questionnaires that tapped into these constructs. In keeping with current theory, interpersonal sensitivity was found to have a negative association with empathy. Contrary to theory, interpersonal sensitivity was negatively associated with agreeableness. Future research should aim to replicate these findings and potentially reconfigure the theory of interpersonal sensitivity.
48 pages.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Racine, Timothy
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