Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: April 2016

17 - Interpersonal accuracy

from Part II - Correlates of interpersonal accuracy



This chapter examines the relationship between interpersonal accuracy and prosociality. These two concepts seem intuitively intertwined, perhaps in part because both of them have been linked to the very broad and diffuse idea of “empathy.” We first highlight studies that support the relationship between interpersonal accuracy and prosociality. Notably, the predominant measure of interpersonal accuracy in studies supporting the link is emotion recognition – and in particular, recognition of fear. We next explore why the connection between these two constructs may be over-perceived. One possible reason is that both interpersonal accuracy and prosociality can be viewed as multidimensional constructs that have been operationalized in multiple ways. Links found between certain pairs of measures may not generalize to all measures. We conclude with future directions that may help further delineate the mechanisms that connect these two associated, yet distinct, constructs.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Ambady, N., Bernieri, F. J., & Richeson, J. A. (2000). Toward a histology of social behavior: Judgmental accuracy from thin slices of the behavioral stream. In Zanna, M. P. (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 32 (pp. 201271). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001). The “Reading the mind in the eyes” Test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 241251.
Batson, C. D., Early, S., & Salvarani, G. (1997). Perspective taking: Imagining how another feels versus imagining how you would feel. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 751758.
Batson, C. D., & Thompson, E. R. (2001). Why don’t moral people act morally? Motivational considerations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 5457.
Berntson, G. G., Cacioppo, J. T., & Quigley, K. S. (1993). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia: Autonomic origins, physiological mechanisms, and psychophysiological implications. Psychophysiology, 30, 183196.
Besel, L. D., & Yuille, J. C. (2010). Individual differences in empathy: The role of facial expression recognition. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 107112.
Bombari, D., Schmid Mast, M., Brosch, T., & Sander, D. (2013). How interpersonal power affects empathic accuracy: Differential roles of mentalizing versus mirroring? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, Article ID 375. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00375.
Brewer, M. B. (2007). The social psychology of intergroup relations: Social categorization, ingroup bias, and outgroup prejudice. In Kruglanski, A. W. & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (2nd ed., pp. 695715). New York: Guilford Press.
Cheng, Y., Hung, A.-Y., & Decety, J. (2012). Dissociation between affective sharing and emotion understanding in juvenile psychopaths. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 623636.
Clark, T. F., Winkielman, P., & McIntosh, D. N. (2008). Autism and the extraction of emotion from briefly presented facial expressions: Stumbling at the first step of empathy. Emotion, 8, 803809.
Côté, S., Kraus, M. W., Cheng, B. H., Oveis, C., van der Löwe, I., Lian, H., & Keltner, D. (2011). Social power facilitates the effect of prosocial orientation on empathic accuracy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 217232.
Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multi-dimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113126.
Dawel, A., O’Kearney, R., McKone, E., & Palermo, R. (2012). Not just fear and sadness: Meta-analytic evidence of pervasive emotion recognition deficits for facial and vocal expressions in psychopathy. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 22882304.
Demurie, E., De Corel, M., & Roeyers, H. (2011). Empathic accuracy in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 126134.
Dunfield, K. A., & Kuhlmeier, V. A. (2013). Classifying prosocial behavior: Children’s responses to instrumental need, emotional distress, and material desire. Child Development, 84, 17661776.
Eagly, A. H. (2009). The his and hers of prosocial behavior: An examination of the social psychology of gender. American Psychologist, 64, 644658.
Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003). When familiarity breeds accuracy: Cultural exposure and facial emotion recognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 276290.
Fernandez-Duque, D., & Black, S. E. (2005). Impaired recognition of negative facial emotions in patients with frontotemporal dementia. Neuropsychologia, 43, 16731687.
Fernandez-Duque, D., Hodges, S. D., Baird, J. A., & Black, S. E. (2010). Empathy in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 32, 289298.
Funder, D. C. (1995). On the accuracy of personality judgment: A realistic approach. Psychological Review, 102, 652670.
Gage, N. L., & Cronbach, L. (1955). Conceptual and methodological problems in interpersonal perception. Psychological Review, 62, 411422.
Gesn, P. R., & Ickes, W. (1999). The development of meaning contexts for empathic accuracy: Channel and sequence effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 746761.
Hall, J. A. (2011a). Clinicians’ accuracy in perceiving patients: Its relevance for clinical practice and a narrative review of methods and correlates. Patient Education and Counseling, 84, 319324.
Hall, J. A. (2011b). Manipulated motivation and interpersonal accuracy. In Smith, J., Ickes, W., Hall, J. A., & Hodges, S. D. (Eds.). Managing interpersonal sensitivity: Knowing when – and when not – to understand others (pp. 120). Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Hall, J. A., Andrzejewski, S. A., & Yopchick, J. E. (2009). Psychosocial correlates of interpersonal sensitivity: A meta-analysis. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 33, 149180.
Hall, J. A., & Bernieri, F. J. (Eds). (2001). Interpersonal sensitivity: Theory and measurement. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Hall, J. A., Blanch, D. C., Horgan, T. G., Murphy, N. A., Rosip, J. C., & Schmid Mast, M. (2009). Motivation and interpersonal sensitivity: Does it matter how hard you try? Motivation and Emotion, 33, 291302.
Hall, J. A., Rosip, J. C., Smith LeBeau, L., Horgan, T. G., & Carter, J. D. (2006). Attributing the sources of accuracy in unequal-power dyadic communication: Who is better and why? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 1827.
Hall, J. A., & Schmid Mast, M. (2008). Are women always more interpersonally sensitive than men? Impact of content domain and motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 144155.
Harvey, P. O., Zaki, J., Lee, J., Ochsner, K., & Green, M. F. (2013). Neural substrates of empathic accuracy in people with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 39, 617628.
Haugen, P. T., Welsh, D. P., & McNulty, J. K. (2008). Empathic accuracy and adolescent romantic relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 31, 709727.
Helgeson, V. S. (1994). Relation of agency and communion to well-being: Evidence and potential explanations. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 412428.
Hodges, S. D., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2007). Balancing the empathy expense account: Strategies for regulating empathic response. In Farrow, T. F. D. & Woodruff, P. W. R. (Eds.), Empathy in mental illness (pp. 389407). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hodges, S. D., Kiel, K. J., Kramer, A. D. I., Veach, D., & Villanueva, B. R. (2010). Giving birth to empathy: The effects of similar experience on empathic accuracy, empathic concern, and perceived empathy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 398409.
Hodges, S. D., Laurent, S. M., & Lewis, K. L. (2011). Specially motivated, feminine, or just female: Do women have an empathic accuracy advantage? In Smith, J. L., Ickes, W., Hall, J. A., & Hodges, S. D. (Eds.), Managing interpersonal sensitivity: Knowing when – and when not – to understand others (pp. 5973). Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Hodges, S. D., Lewis, K. L., & Ickes, W. (2015). The matter of other minds: Empathic accuracy and the factors that influence it. In Shaver, P., Mikulincer, M. (Eds.), Simpson, J. A., & Dovidio, J. (Assoc. Eds.), APA handbook of personality and social psychology: Vol 3. Interpersonal relations (pp. 319348). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hodges, S. D., & Myers, M. W. (2007). Empathy. In Baumeister, R. F. and Vohs, K. D. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 296298). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Horgan, T. G., Schmid Mast, M., Hall, J. A., & Carter, J. D. (2004). Gender differences in memory for the appearance of others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 185196.
Hubbard, J., Srivastava, S., Degras, D., Harbaugh, W., & Mayr, U. (March, 2015). Looking for the heart in the brain: Neuroimaging analyses of life-span differences in charitable giving. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, CA.
Ickes, W., Simpson, J. A., & Oriña, M. (2005). Empathic accuracy and inaccuracy in close relationships. In Malle, B. F. & Hodges, S. D. (Eds.), Other minds: How humans bridge the divide between self and others (pp. 310322). New York: Guilford.
Ickes, W., Stinson, L., Bissonnette, V., & Garcia, S. (1990). Naturalistic social cognition: Empathic accuracy in mixed-sex dyads. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 730742.
Johnson, D. R. (2012). Transportation into a story increases empathy, prosocial behavior, and perceptual bias toward fearful expressions. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 150155.
Klein, K. J. K., & Hodges, S. D. (2001). Gender differences, motivation and empathic accuracy: When it pays to understand. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 720730.
Knafo, A., Steinberg, T., & Goldner, I. (2011). Children’s low affective perspective-taking ability is associated with low self-initiated pro-sociality. Emotion, 11, 194198.
Knutson, B. (1996). Facial expressions of emotion influence interpersonal trait inferences. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20, 165182.
Lamm, C., Batson, C. D., & Decety, J. (2007). The neural substrate of human empathy: Effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 4258.
Lawrence, E. J., Shaw, P., Baker, D., Baron-Cohen, S., & David, A. S. (2004). Measuring empathy: Reliability and validity of the Empathy Quotient. Psychological Medicine, 34, 911919.
Levenson, R. W., & Ruef, A. M. (1992). Empathy: A physiological substrate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 234246.
Lewis, K. L., Hodges, S. D., Laurent, S. M., Srivastava, S., & Biancarosa, G. (2012). Reading between the minds: The use of stereotypes in empathic accuracy. Psychological Science, 23, 10401046.
Lopes, P. N., Grewal, D., Kadis, J., Gall, M., & Salovey, P. (2006). Evidence that emotional intelligence is related to job performance and affect and attitudes at work. Psicothema, 18, 132138.
Marsh, A. A., Adams, R. B. Jr., & Kleck, R. E. (2005). Why do fear and anger look the way they do? Form and social function in facial expressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 7386.
Marsh, A. A., & Ambady, N. (2007). The influence of the fear facial expression on prosocial responding. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 225247.
Marsh, A. A., & Blair, R. J. R. (2008). Deficits in facial affect recognition among antisocial populations: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 32, 454465.
Marsh, A. A., Finger, E. C., Schechter, J. C., Jurkowitz, I. T. N., Reid, M. E., & Blair, R. J. R. (2011). Adolescents with psychopathic traits report reductions in physiological responses to fear. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 834841.
Marsh, A. A., Kozak, M. N., & Ambady, N. (2007). Accurate identification of fear facial expressions predicts prosocial behavior. Emotion, 7, 239251.
Marsh, A. A., Stoycos, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Robinson, P., VanMeter, J. W., & Cardinale, E. M. (2014). Neural and cognitive characteristics of extraordinary altruists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 1503615041.
Matsumoto, D., & Willingham, B. (2009). Spontaneous facial expressions of emotion of congenitally and noncongenitally blind individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 110.
Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2004). Emotional intelligence: Theory, findings, and implications. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 197215.
Musser, E. D., Backs, R. W., Schmitt, C. F., Ablow, J. C., Measelle, J. R., & Nigg, J. T. (2011). Emotion regulation via the autonomic nervous system in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 841852.
National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2013). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2013. Special Report NSF 13–304. Arlington, VA. Available at
Nowicki, S., & Duke, M. P. (1994). Individual differences in the nonverbal communication of affect: The Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy Scale. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 18, 935.
Papp, L. M., Kouros, C. D., & Cummings, E. M. (2010). Emotions in marital conflict interactions: Empathic accuracy, assumed similarity, and the moderating context of depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27, 367387.
Sato, W., Uono, S., Matsuura, N., & Toichi, M. (2009). Misrecognition of facial expressions in delinquents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 3, Article ID 27. doi:10.1186/1753-2000-3-27.
Simpson, J., Ickes, W., & Blackstone, T. (1995). When the head protects the heart: Empathic accuracy in dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 629641.
Snodgrass, S. E., Hecht, M. A., & Ploutz-Snyder, R. (1998). Interpersonal sensitivity: Expressivity or perceptivity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 238249.
Stinson, L., & Ickes, W. (1992). Empathic accuracy in the interactions of male friends versus male strangers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 787797.
Tager-Flusberg, H. (2005). Language and communication disorders in autism spectrum disorders. In Bauman, M. L. & Kemper, T. L. (Eds.), The neurobiology of autism (pp. 4558). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Young, S. G., & Hugenberg, K. (2010). Mere social categorization modulates identification of facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 964977.
Zaki, J., Bolger, N., & Ochsner, K. (2008). It takes two: The interpersonal nature of empathic accuracy. Psychological Science, 19, 399404.
Zaki, J., & Ochsner, K. N. (2012). The neuroscience of empathy: Progress, pitfalls and promise. Nature Neuroscience, 15, 675680.
Zaki, J., Weber, J., Bolger, N., & Ochsner, K. (2009). The neural bases of empathic accuracy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 1138211387.
Zaki, J., Weber, J., & Ochsner, K. (2012). Task-dependent neural bases of perceiving emotionally expressive targets. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, Article ID 228. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00228.
Zebrowitz, L. A. (2001). Groping for the elephant of interpersonal sensitivity. In Hall, J. A. & Bernieri, F. J. (Eds.), Interpersonal sensitivity: Theory and measurement (pp. 333350). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.