Empathy towards individuals of the same and different ethnicity when depicted in negative and positive contexts

David L. Neumann*, Gregory J. Boyle, Raymond C K Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals can show different empathy responses towards others depending on in-group and out-group biases. The present research tested empathy biases related to ethnicity when targets were depicted in negative and positive contexts. Caucasian (. n=99) and Asian (. n=99) participants gave subjective ratings for images depicting same or other ethnicity individuals in socially-relevant negative and positive contexts. Participants rated significantly higher on all three dimensions of empathy (affect, perspective taking, and understanding) for same ethnicity targets than for other ethnicity targets. However, this bias was found only for targets depicted in negative contexts. Moreover, no ethnicity bias was found for ratings of valence, arousal, distress, and interest. The results suggest that ethnicity-related biases in empathy are present, are limited to negative contexts, and are not merely a manifestation of a more general cognitive or affective bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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