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Heart to heart: Connecting empathy, attachment, and physiology.
Crystal Dawn Rollings (author)Cindy Hardy (Thesis advisor)Kenneth Prkachin (Thesis advisor)University of Northern British Columbia (Degree granting institution)
Master of Science (MSc)
Number of pages in document: 102
Previous research has shown that there are relationships between empathy and attachment, attachment and physiology, and physiology and empathy in response to affective or stressful exposure however, research has not looked at these three components together during affective exposure. The hypothesis of the current study was that affective stimuli can cause changes in HRV that can be predicted by empathy and adult attachment. Participants were exposed to three 5-minute categories of affective video clips (happy, sad, and physical pain) while physiological data were recorded. Heart rate (HR) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia were extrapolated from the data as measures of autonomic nervous system activity corrected respiratory sinus arrhythmia scores were calculated for the analyses (cRSA). Participants also completed dispositional measures of empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index IRI) and adult attachment (Experience in Close Relationship-Revised ECR-R). Each of the categories of affective clips was effective in eliciting a physiological change with different patterns of responding for each category and different patterns or prediction and correlation between variables. There was support for the predictive ability of the IRI and ECR-R for a change in HR but not for cRSA. Higher scores of Personal Distress and Empathic Concern predicted a change in HR in each affective condition. Another finding was that, in general, individuals with higher maladaptive dispositional scores (e.g., increased Personal Distress) also showed signs of unhealthy cardiovascular responding (e.g., increased HR and decreased RSA). Implications and future directions for research are discussed. --P. ii.
Empathy -- Physiological aspects.Attachment behavior -- Physiological aspects.Affect (Psychology) -- Testing.