Todd L. Pittinsky, R. Matthew Montoya

Sympathy and symhedonia in intergroup relations: The relationship of empathic sorrow and empathic joy to prejudice and allophilia

  • Abstract

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Keywords: symhedonia, allophilia

We conducted two studies to examine how two forms of emotional empathy - sympathy and symhedonia - may affect intergroup relations. Study 1 (N = 125) found that increased levels of sympathy were associated with reduced levels of disliking for outgroups (prejudice) but not with higher levels of liking for outgroups (allophilia). Study 2 (N = 403) found that symhedonia was more strongly associated with increased allophilia for outgroups than with decreased prejudice. Taken together, the studies indicate that sympathy and symhedonia may play distinct roles in intergroup relations. Whereas sympathy may be more important to understanding intergroup hatred and negative intergroup relations, symhedonia may be more important to understanding intergroup liking and positive intergroup relations. More generally, our findings support the independent study of positive intergroup attitudes, such as allophilia, and negative intergroup attitudes.

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