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I know how you feel: the warm-altruistic personality profile and the empathic brain.

Haas BW, Brook M, Remillard L, Ishak A, Anderson IW, Filkowski MM - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that specific personality traits are associated with behavioral and biological indicators of improved empathy.Extraversion and Agreeableness are personality traits designed to measure individual differences in social-cognitive functioning, however each trait-dimension includes elements that represent interpersonal social functioning and elements that do not represent interpersonal social functioning.We tested the prediction that interpersonal elements of Extraversion (Warmth) and Agreeableness (Altruism) are associated with empathy and non-interpersonal elements of Extraversion and Agreeableness are not associated with empathy.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States of America; Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
The ability to empathize with other people is a critical component of human social relationships. Empathic processing varies across the human population, however it is currently unclear how personality traits are associated with empathic processing. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that specific personality traits are associated with behavioral and biological indicators of improved empathy. Extraversion and Agreeableness are personality traits designed to measure individual differences in social-cognitive functioning, however each trait-dimension includes elements that represent interpersonal social functioning and elements that do not represent interpersonal social functioning. We tested the prediction that interpersonal elements of Extraversion (Warmth) and Agreeableness (Altruism) are associated with empathy and non-interpersonal elements of Extraversion and Agreeableness are not associated with empathy. We quantified empathic processing behaviorally (empathic accuracy task using video vignettes) and within the brain (fMRI and an emotional perspective taking task) in 50 healthy subjects. Converging evidence shows that highly warm and altruistic people are well skilled in recognizing the emotional states of other people and exhibit greater activity in brain regions important for empathy (temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex) during emotional perspective taking. A mediation analysis further supported the association between warm-altruistic personality and empathic processing; indicating that one reason why highly warm-altruistic individuals may be skilled empathizers is that they engage the temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex more. Together, these findings advance the way the behavioral and neural basis of empathy is understood and demonstrates the efficacy of personality scales to measure individual differences in interpersonal social function.

No MeSH data available.


A. Results of whole brain analysis, within warm-altruistic composite scores predicting brain activity during emotional perspective taking > shape matching.A total of four statistically significant clusters are reported (bilateral TPJ, right medial PFC, and left premotor cortex). B. Data from each cluster within the empathy/theory of mind network are extracted (y-axis) and plotted against altruism-warmth composite scores (x-axis). TPJ: temporoparietal junction; PFC: prefrontal cortex; R: right; L: Left.
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pone.0120639.g002: A. Results of whole brain analysis, within warm-altruistic composite scores predicting brain activity during emotional perspective taking > shape matching.A total of four statistically significant clusters are reported (bilateral TPJ, right medial PFC, and left premotor cortex). B. Data from each cluster within the empathy/theory of mind network are extracted (y-axis) and plotted against altruism-warmth composite scores (x-axis). TPJ: temporoparietal junction; PFC: prefrontal cortex; R: right; L: Left.

Mentions: The results of whole brain analysis for emotional emotion perspective taking > match shapes (with no covariates) are shown within the Supplementary Results section. The results of the whole brain analysis, with warm-altruistic composite scores entered as the independent variable and contrast estimates (emotion perspective taking > match shapes) entered as the dependent variable, revealed a total of 4 statistically significant clusters within the bilateral TPJ (right: MNI: -58, -46, 14; t = 3.56, p <. 001, k = 67 voxels; left MNI: 60, -36, 22; t = 3.93, p = .002, k = 116 voxels), right rostral medial PFC (MNI: 10, 52, 12; t = 3.50, p <. 001, k = 74 voxels) and the left premotor cortex (MNI: -44, -8, 62; t = 3.31, p = .001, k = 116 voxels) (Fig. 2A). We carried out a series of steps to confirm the anatomical location for each TPJ cluster. We generated structural and functional connectivity based ROIs, as reported by Mars et al [43]. For each cluster, we quantified the number of voxels, correlated with warm-altruism, within the anterior TPJ (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 58, -37, 20), posterior TPJ (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 54, -55, 20) and the inferior parietal lobule (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 49, -46, 46). The results of this analysis showed that for the left TPJ cluster (67 voxels), 43 voxels fell within the anterior TPJ, 20 voxels fell within the posterior TPJ, and 0 voxels fell within the inferior parietal lobule. For the right TPJ cluster (116 voxels), we found that 113 voxels fell within the anterior TPJ, 0 voxels fell within the posterior TPJ, and 0 voxels fell within the inferior parietal lobule.


I know how you feel: the warm-altruistic personality profile and the empathic brain.

Haas BW, Brook M, Remillard L, Ishak A, Anderson IW, Filkowski MM - PLoS ONE (2015)

A. Results of whole brain analysis, within warm-altruistic composite scores predicting brain activity during emotional perspective taking > shape matching.A total of four statistically significant clusters are reported (bilateral TPJ, right medial PFC, and left premotor cortex). B. Data from each cluster within the empathy/theory of mind network are extracted (y-axis) and plotted against altruism-warmth composite scores (x-axis). TPJ: temporoparietal junction; PFC: prefrontal cortex; R: right; L: Left.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4359130&req=5

pone.0120639.g002: A. Results of whole brain analysis, within warm-altruistic composite scores predicting brain activity during emotional perspective taking > shape matching.A total of four statistically significant clusters are reported (bilateral TPJ, right medial PFC, and left premotor cortex). B. Data from each cluster within the empathy/theory of mind network are extracted (y-axis) and plotted against altruism-warmth composite scores (x-axis). TPJ: temporoparietal junction; PFC: prefrontal cortex; R: right; L: Left.
Mentions: The results of whole brain analysis for emotional emotion perspective taking > match shapes (with no covariates) are shown within the Supplementary Results section. The results of the whole brain analysis, with warm-altruistic composite scores entered as the independent variable and contrast estimates (emotion perspective taking > match shapes) entered as the dependent variable, revealed a total of 4 statistically significant clusters within the bilateral TPJ (right: MNI: -58, -46, 14; t = 3.56, p <. 001, k = 67 voxels; left MNI: 60, -36, 22; t = 3.93, p = .002, k = 116 voxels), right rostral medial PFC (MNI: 10, 52, 12; t = 3.50, p <. 001, k = 74 voxels) and the left premotor cortex (MNI: -44, -8, 62; t = 3.31, p = .001, k = 116 voxels) (Fig. 2A). We carried out a series of steps to confirm the anatomical location for each TPJ cluster. We generated structural and functional connectivity based ROIs, as reported by Mars et al [43]. For each cluster, we quantified the number of voxels, correlated with warm-altruism, within the anterior TPJ (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 58, -37, 20), posterior TPJ (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 54, -55, 20) and the inferior parietal lobule (14mm radius sphere; MNI ± 49, -46, 46). The results of this analysis showed that for the left TPJ cluster (67 voxels), 43 voxels fell within the anterior TPJ, 20 voxels fell within the posterior TPJ, and 0 voxels fell within the inferior parietal lobule. For the right TPJ cluster (116 voxels), we found that 113 voxels fell within the anterior TPJ, 0 voxels fell within the posterior TPJ, and 0 voxels fell within the inferior parietal lobule.

Bottom Line: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that specific personality traits are associated with behavioral and biological indicators of improved empathy.Extraversion and Agreeableness are personality traits designed to measure individual differences in social-cognitive functioning, however each trait-dimension includes elements that represent interpersonal social functioning and elements that do not represent interpersonal social functioning.We tested the prediction that interpersonal elements of Extraversion (Warmth) and Agreeableness (Altruism) are associated with empathy and non-interpersonal elements of Extraversion and Agreeableness are not associated with empathy.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States of America; Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
The ability to empathize with other people is a critical component of human social relationships. Empathic processing varies across the human population, however it is currently unclear how personality traits are associated with empathic processing. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that specific personality traits are associated with behavioral and biological indicators of improved empathy. Extraversion and Agreeableness are personality traits designed to measure individual differences in social-cognitive functioning, however each trait-dimension includes elements that represent interpersonal social functioning and elements that do not represent interpersonal social functioning. We tested the prediction that interpersonal elements of Extraversion (Warmth) and Agreeableness (Altruism) are associated with empathy and non-interpersonal elements of Extraversion and Agreeableness are not associated with empathy. We quantified empathic processing behaviorally (empathic accuracy task using video vignettes) and within the brain (fMRI and an emotional perspective taking task) in 50 healthy subjects. Converging evidence shows that highly warm and altruistic people are well skilled in recognizing the emotional states of other people and exhibit greater activity in brain regions important for empathy (temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex) during emotional perspective taking. A mediation analysis further supported the association between warm-altruistic personality and empathic processing; indicating that one reason why highly warm-altruistic individuals may be skilled empathizers is that they engage the temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex more. Together, these findings advance the way the behavioral and neural basis of empathy is understood and demonstrates the efficacy of personality scales to measure individual differences in interpersonal social function.

No MeSH data available.