Study: Does empathy have a cost? Diverging psychological and physiological effects within families.


Parental empathy is associated with a host of beneficial psychosocial outcomes for children. However, less is known about the effects of being empathic for parents. The current study tested the hypothesis that, although parental empathy may be beneficial to children both psychologically and physiologically, it may take a physiological toll on parents.


The current study examined psychological and physiological correlates of parental empathy in 247 parent–adolescent dyads. During a baseline laboratory visit, parents and adolescents provide blood samples from which markers of systemic inflammation, including interleukin 1-ra, interleukin 6, and C-reactive protein, were assayed. Parents completed self-report questionnaires of empathy, well-being, and self-esteem, and also reported on their child’s emotion regulation.

by Manczak, Erika M.; DeLongis, Anita; Chen, Edith