The impact of empathy and reappraisal on emotional intensity recognition

Navot Naor, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Gal Sheppes, Hadas Okon-Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empathy represents a fundamental ability that allows for the creation and cultivation of social bonds. As part of the empathic process, individuals use their own emotional state to interpret the content and intensity of other people’s emotions. Therefore, the current study was designed to test two hypotheses: (1) empathy for the pain of another will result in biased emotional intensity judgment; and (2) changing one’s emotion via emotion regulation will modulate these biased judgments. To test these hypotheses, in experiment one we used a modified version of a well-known task that triggers an empathic reaction We found that empathy resulted in biased emotional intensity judgment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a bias in the recognition of emotional facial expressions as a function of empathy for pain. In experiment two, we replicated these findings in an independent sample, and further found that this biased emotional intensity judgment can be moderated via reappraisal. Taken together, our findings suggest that the novel task used here can be employed to further explore the relation between emotion regulation and empathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-987
Number of pages16
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Marie Curie Actions CIG [grant number 34206] and the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel Young Investigator Research [grant number 145-14-15] awarded to H. Okon-Singer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Empathy
  • emotion regulation
  • empathic accuracy
  • reappraisal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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