New research by Müller et al. (2013) introduces another dimension to empathy. Empathy may not be as malleable as previously thought. The authors have shown that the expression of empathy through imitation may be influenced (i.e., moderated) by attractiveness. Simply put, people seem to emphasize more with attractive others than unattractive ones. Specifically, their studies showed that participants were more likely to imitate the behaviours of an attractive person.
Prior research has shown that people emphasize more with people who are similar to oneself. People high in empathy have been shown to be more willing to help similar people than people who are different from themselves. Brain studies have also shown group membership to play a significant role in empathy.
Empathy is a beautiful thing: Empathy predicts imitation only for attractive others.