Examining Empathy and Perspective Taking Among High-Risk and Low-Risk Persistently Antisocial and Non Antisocial Young Adults

By Effie Zafirakis.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The present study investigated empathy and perspective taking of three groups:
high-risk persistently antisocial, low-risk persistently antisocial and
non-antisocial young adults. Antisocial behaviour refers to acts such as
thefts, drug dealing, bullying and fighting. In particular, gender and
group-related differences of young adults with differing histories of antisocial behaviour (namely, high-risk persistently antisocial, low-risk persistently antisocial and non-antisocial groups) were examined. One hundred and thirty-eight participants, aged 22 to 23 years of age, were interviewed by
phone. Participants were drawn from the Australian Temperament Project (ATP)
which is a prospective longitudinal study that has tracked pathways of
antisocial behaviour and psychosocial adjustment from infancy to young
adulthood. An examination of group and gender differences found that high-risk
persistently antisocial youth endorsed lower levels of affective empathy, as
measured by the empathic concern subscale on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index
(IRI), compared to their non-antisocial counterparts. Female participants also
reported higher levels of affective empathy than male participants. No gender
or group differences were found on the cognitive component of the IRI, as
measured by the perspective taking subscale. In particular, this study suggests that both gender and the level of risk for persistently antisocial behaviour were significantly related to differences in empathy in young adulthood. Discussion is focused on the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Keywords: Persistent Antisocial Behaviour, Empathy and Perspective -Taking, High-risk and Low-risk Persistently Antisocial Young Adults

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 7, pp.193-204. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.214MB).

Dr. Effie Zafirakis

Lecturer, Criminal Justice Programs including Juris Doctor (Law), RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Zafirakis is currently lecturing at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, in the Criminal Justice and Juris Doctor programs in law. Dr. Zafirakis qualified as a lawyer and as a forensic psychologist and has a keen interest in the interface between psychology and law. Dr. Zafirakis holds degrees in Science majoring in Psychology (BSc) and in Law (LLB) from Monash University, and a Doctorate in Psychology (DPsych Forensic) from the University of Melbourne. Dr. Zafirakis has also practiced as a criminal lawyer with Victoria Legal Aid.


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