Dissociation of Cognitive and Emotional Empathy in Adults With Asperger Syndrome Using the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET)

Neurocognition of Decision Making, Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 04/2008; 38(3):464-73. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0486-x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Empathy is a multidimensional construct consisting of cognitive (inferring mental states) and emotional (empathic concern) components. Despite a paucity of research, individuals on the autism spectrum are generally believed to lack empathy. In the current study we used a new, photo-based measure, the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET), to assess empathy multidimensionally in a group of 17 individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) and 18 well-matched controls. Results suggested that while individuals with AS are impaired in cognitive empathy, they do not differ from controls in emotional empathy. Level of general emotional arousability and socially desirable answer tendencies did not differ between groups. Internal consistency of the MET's scales ranged from .71 to .92, and convergent and divergent validity were highly satisfactory.

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    • "Participants performed the Multifaceted Empathy Task (MET) at t+75 min. This computer test comprises 40 photographs of people in emotionally charged situations (Dziobek et al., 2008), and has been described in detail elsewhere (Preller et al., 2014). The stimuli depict everyday life situations conveying information on emotional mental states via facial expression, body language, and context. "
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    • "These emotion-specific effects might indicate that oxytocin influences emotional rather than cognitive processing. Likewise , in the Multifaceted Empathy Test (Dziobek et al., 2008) where stimuli include additional facial and contextual features, oxytocin enhanced the intensity of emotional reactions (emotional empathy), but not the identification of others' mental states (cognitive empathy) (Hurlemann et al., 2010). Taken together, these findings suggest that oxytocin effects on mind-reading depend on both baseline socialemotional abilities and properties of the environment that contribute to the interaction. "
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    • "2.3. The Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET) [12] "
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