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date: 23 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, a broadened perspective on antisocial behavior is proposed that includes not only what is customarily considered antisocial behavior (e.g., aggression, theft, bullying) but also prejudice and discrimination toward out-group members. This broadening is balanced by a narrowing of the causal factors that are considered, with an exclusive focus on empathy, or lack thereof, as the psychological dimension underlying the diverse types of antisocial behavior. It is argued that antisocial behavior is facilitated not only by low levels of dispositional empathy, but also by social psychological processes that actively curtail empathic reaction to others (us vs. them distinction, dehumanization). The discussion of empathy as a thread common to a variety of antisocial behaviors also serves as a bridge between the personality and social psychological literature.

Keywords: antisocial behavior, aggression, offending, criminality, prejudice, discrimination, empathy, perspective taking

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