Background: Empathy is deeply linked with the ability to adapt to human social environments. The present study investigated the relationship between the empathy trait and attention elicited by discriminating facial expressions.Methods: Event-related potentials were measured while 32 participants (17 men and 15 women) discriminated facial expressions (happy or angry) and colors of flowers (yellow or purple) under an oddball paradigm. The empathy trait of participants was measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980).Results: The empathy trait correlated positively with both the early portion (300 to 600 ms after stimulus onset) and late portion (600 to 800 ms after stimulus onset) of late positive potential (LPP) amplitude elicited by faces, but not with LPP elicited by flowers.Conclusions: This result suggests that, compared to people with low empathy, people with high empathy pay more attention when discriminating facial expressions. The present study suggests that differences exist in methods of adapting to social environments between people with high and low empathy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Physiology (medical)