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Int J Psychol. 2013;48(4):631-40. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2012.682062. Epub 2012 May 8.

Self-report measures, facial feedback, and personality differences (BEES) in cooperative vs. noncooperative situations: contribution of the mimic system to the sense of empathy.

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Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


The present study integrated three different measures of emotional empathic behavior in a social context: verbal self-report measures (empathic response, emotional involvement, emotional significance, and valence), facial mimicry (activity of corrugator and zygomaticus muscles), and personal response to the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES). Participants were presented with different interpersonal scene types (cooperation, noncooperation, conflict, indifference). Firstly, self-rating on empathy, emotional involvement, and valence varied as a function of interpersonal context. Secondly, corrugator activity increased in response to conflictual and noncooperative situations; zygomatic activity increased in response to cooperative situations. Third, high- and low-BEES subjects showed different empathic behavior: High-empathic subjects were more responsive to empathy-related situations than low-empathic subjects. The convergence and divergence of these multidimensional measures was discussed.

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