The role of empathy in anger arousal in violent offenders and university students

Andrew Day, Philip Mohr, Kevin Howells, Adam Gerace, Loraine Lim

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A lack of empathic responsiveness toward others has been consistently identified as an important antecedent to aggressive behavior and violent crime, with many rehabilitation programs for violent offenders incorporating treatment modules that are specifically designed to increase offender empathy. This study examined the extent to which cognitive (perspective taking) and affective (empathic concern, personal distress) empathy predicted anger in a clinical (male prisoners convicted of a violent offense) and a nonclinical (student) sample. Perspective taking emerged as the strongest predictor of self-reported anger in response to an interpersonal provocation, as well as being most consistently related to scores on measures of general trait anger and methods of anger control. While the relationship between perspective taking and anger was apparent for offenders as well as students, the results did not support the idea that an inability to perspective take is a particular characteristic of violent offenders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)599-613
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
    Volume56
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

    Keywords

    • anger
    • empathy
    • perspective taking
    • violent offenders

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