Abstract and Keywords
In the present chapter we examine the role that empathic accuracy plays in people's close relationships. We first define the term empathic accuracy and briefly review the historical precedents of this important construct. We then describe how empathic accuracy is operationally defined and measured within the context of the three major research paradigms that have been developed to date: the dyadic interaction paradigm, the standard stimulus paradigm, and the standard interview paradigm. Next, we summarize the results of the search for reliable predictors of empathic accuracy, starting with characteristics of perceivers and then moving to characteristics of targets.
The rest of the chapter focuses specifically on empathic accuracy in close relationship. This section examines the "motivational dynamics" of empathic accuracy, using Ickes and Simpson's (1997, 2001) empathic accuracy model to specify when perceivers will attempt to accurately versus inaccurately infer their relationship partner's thoughts and feelings. With the empathic accuracy model and its associated research findings as background, we go on to explore the role of empathic accuracy in successful social interactions. Finally, we suggest some useful directions for future research and summarize both the strengths and the limitations of of "everyday mind reading."
Keywords: empathic accuracy, close relationships, research paradigms, the empathic accuracy model, motivated accuracy, motivated inaccuracy, inferential difficulty, perceiver differences, target differences
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