Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Merced

UC Merced Previously Published Works bannerUC Merced

The Interpersonal Functions of Empathy: A Relational Perspective

  • Author(s): Main, Alexandra;
  • Walle, Eric A;
  • Kho, Carmen;
  • Halpern, Jodi
  • et al.
Abstract

Empathy is an extensively studied construct, but operationalization of effective empathy is routinely debated in popular culture, theory, and empirical research. This article offers a process-focused approach emphasizing the relational functions of empathy in interpersonal contexts. We argue that this perspective offers advantages over more traditional conceptualizations that focus on primarily intrapsychic features (i.e., within the individual). Our aim is to enrich current conceptualizations and empirical approaches to the study of empathy by drawing on psychological, philosophical, medical, linguistic, and anthropological perspectives. In doing so, we highlight the various functions of empathy in social interaction, underscore some underemphasized components in empirical studies of empathy, and make recommendations for future research on this important area in the study of emotion.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View