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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    • "Empathic ability in NPD is now considered compromised, and fluctuating, influenced by the interaction between deficits, capabilities, and motivation. Studies confirming this view[59]used both self-reports and the more objective Multifaceted Empathy Test, MET[60]. The authors found that patients with NPD showed no deficits in cognitive empathic capability, but significant impairment in emotional empathy with failures in emotional mirroring and responsiveness. "
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    • "Pre-peer-reviewed version of a paper submitted to publication WATCHING CLOSELY 4 been differentiated (Dziobek et al., 2008; Lieberman, 2007; Raz & Hendler, 2014; Shamay- Tsoory, Aharon-Peretz, & Perry, 2009). TOM is closely associated with cognitive empathy, i.e., representing the psychological states of others, that is different from affective empathy, i.e., embodied simulation or experiencing the mental state of others (Lieberman, 2007). "
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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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    ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) shows deficits in self-other distinction during theory of mind (ToM). Here we investigated whether ASD patients also show difficulties in self-other distinction during empathy and if potential deficits are linked to dysfunctional resting-state connectivity patterns. In a first study, ASD patients and controls performed an emotional egocentricity paradigm and a ToM task. In the second study, resting-state connectivity of right temporo-parietal junction and right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG) were analysed using a large-scale fMRI data set. ASD patients exhibited deficient ToM but normal emotional egocentricity, which was paralleled by reduced connectivity of regions of the ToM network and unimpaired rSMG network connectivity. These results suggest spared self-other distinction during empathy and an intact rSMG network in ASD.
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