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Empathy and theft by finding : the intermediary role of moral emotions and norms

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

This study explores the intermediary role of anticipated shame, guilt, and norms in the association between empathy and the likelihood of a specific uncooperative act: theft by finding. Empirical evidence supports a negative association between empathy and a broad range of uncooperative behaviors. Some studies suggest that empathy reduces noncooperation via intermediary factors such as empathy and moral emotions shame and guilt. Inspired by Martin Hoffman's empathy-based theory of moral development, we propose a testable model in which individual differences in empathic concern and perspective-taking are positively related to anticipated guilt, shame, and conduct-specific moral norm, which in turn reduce the likelihood of theft by finding. Data were collected from a region-wide cross-sectional sample of adolescents and young adults in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium in 2019 (N = 3591). Overall, our propositions were corroborated. Structural equation modeling suggests that empathic concern inhibits the likelihood of theft by finding via anticipated guilt-shame. The discussion focuses on a better understanding of the relationship between empathy, moral dimensions, and uncooperative choices.
ISSN: 1520-6629
Issue: 6
Volume: 49
Pagina's: 1648 - 1676
Jaar van publicatie:2021