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


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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Available from: Hauke R Heekeren, Oct 04, 2015
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    • "A lack of empathy is one of the key characteristics of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD, Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004), a psychiatric condition characterized by impaired development in social interaction and communication (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). While results for impairments in emotional empathy, i.e., the capacity to share the feelings of others, have been somewhat inconsistent (Dziobek et al., 2008), it has repeatedly been shown that individuals with ASD have difficulties in cognitive empathy, i.e., in attributing mental states including thoughts, intentions, and emotions to others (Baron-Cohen, 2001; Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985; Dziobek et al., 2006; Frith & Happé, 1994). A proposed mechanism for the empathy deficits observed in ASD is coming from imitation impairments (for an overview, Ramachandran & Oberman, 2006). "
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    Cognition 09/2015; 146:8-15. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.09.007 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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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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