Empathy and emotional responsiveness in delinquent and non-delinquent adolescents

Ross Robinson, William L. Roberts, Janet Strayer, Ray Koopman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Two groups of male adolescents, incarcerated young offenders (N = 64, mean age = 16.3 years) and a comparison group of community youth (N = 60; mean age = 16.6 years), were administered the Empathy Continuum (measuring cognitive-affective responses to persons in emotionally evocative videotaped vignettes) and questionnaire measures of empathy, emotional responsiveness, guilt, shame, and antisocial attitudes and behaviors. Although both groups endorsed general statements of empathy, young offenders responded with empathy less often to particular persons in particular situations, and reasoned regarding their empathic responses in more self-referencing ways. They also described their emotional responses to stimulus persons as less intense. In addition to the expected group differences, responsive empathy was a stronger predictor of delinquency than self-reported antisocial behavior, and correctly classified 69 percent of young offenders and comparison youths. Although guilt was consistently related to lower self-reported antisocial attitudes and behaviors, guilt (and shame) only weakly differentiated the two groups, limiting the usefulness of the TOSCA-A as a predictor of delinquency. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2007.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-579
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-20

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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