Empathy and aggression: Effects of self-disclosure and fearful appeal

Ken Ichi Ohbuchi, Tsutomu Ohno, Hiroko Mukai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    On the basis of the familiarity-empathy assumption that self-disclosure evokes empathy for the speaker, it was predicted that a victim's self-disclosure would inhibit aggression against the victim. Female Japanese subjects were asked to give electric shocks to a female victim who disclosed information about herself, was not given an opportunity to do so, or rejected disclosure. Independently of self-disclosure, another empathy arousal was introduced, that is, whether or not the victim expressed her fear of shocks before they were delivered. Consistent with our hypothesis, subjects selected less severe shocks when the victim disclosed information about herself than when she was not given an opportunity to do so or when she rejected self-disclosure. The victim's expression of fear was also very effective in reducing subjects' aggression, suggesting that drawing subjects' attention to the victim's negative emotional state evoked empathy for her and reduced their aggression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)243-253
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Social Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1993 Apr

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology


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