Dr. Sergio Paradiso
Participation year
Project title

Men and Women Experience Different Degrees of Empathy Towards Others' Emotions as a Function of Age


The capacity to understand and experience the feelings of others (empathy) is lower in older individuals relative to younger adults. Whereas young women are found to have higher empathy than men, studies directly investigating the interaction between aging and gender on empathy have been lacking. We hypothesize gender-specific differences across a lifespan, in particular that women will show higher empathy later in life than men. Participants included 66 younger (25-45) and 59 older (65-85) healthy adults. Empathy was measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980), a self-report measure quantifying trait emotion (Empathetic Concern subscale) and trait cognitive empathy (Perspective Taking subscale). Two ANOVA’s investigated effects of age group (younger, older) and gender separately on cognitive and emotional empathy. There was a significant interaction between age and gender on emotional empathy [F (1,121) =8.3, p<.01 in="" young="" adulthood="" women="" showed="" higher="" empathy="" than="" men="" but="" contrary="" to="" predictions="" later="" life="" less="" men.="" for="" cognitive="" no="" age="" gender="" or="" interaction="" effects="" were="" significant.="" this="" research="" is="" consistent="" with="" the="" hypothesis="" that="" and="" show="" different="" trajectories="" over="" adult="" lifespan.="" study="" extends="" previous="" literature="" by="" demonstrating="" older="" woman="" have="" slightly="" lower="" while="" many="" may="" be="" more="" likely="" fill="" role="" of="" nurture="" early="" aging="" a="" shared="" motivations="" close="" relationship="" preservation="" both="" sexes="" make="" levels="" similar.="" future="" longitudinal="" needed="" confirm="" on="" empathy.="">

Jessica  Caballero
UPR @ Mayaguez