The Roles of Theory of Mind and Empathy in the Relationship between Dysphoria and Poor Social Functioning

dc.contributor.authorChan, Emilieen
dc.contributor.supervisorJacobson, Jill A.en
dc.date2008-10-22 15:25:33.573's University at Kingstonen
dc.descriptionThesis (Master, Psychology) -- Queen's University, 2008-10-22 15:25:33.573en
dc.description.abstractThe current research, across three studies, examined two social practices that involve processing and responding to others’ emotions, theory of mind (ToM) and empathy, and how they relate to dysphoria and the social impairments associated with dysphoria over time. Mildly depressed, or dysphoric, individuals, have been found to have heightened ToM when identifying others’ emotions, despite reporting widespread social impairments (Harkness et al., 2005). The first study (Chapter 2) examined if and how ToM is a mediator in the relationship between dysphoria and social functioning. Attribution style, specifically the internalizing attribution bias, was hypothesized to play a role. The interaction between ToM and internalizing attribution bias was independently associated with social functioning. For internalizing attributors, higher ToM was related to better social functioning, but no relationship was observed between ToM and social functioning among non-internalizing attributors. The second study (Chapter 3) examined the relationship between ToM and empathy, addressing the debate surrounding cognitive and affective aspects of ToM and empathy. Affective ToM and cognitive empathy both have been described as processes involving cognitive inferences about others’ emotions. Current results supported this link, showing that a specific component of empathy, perspective-taking, was related to ToM. Although ToM was associated with some aspects of empathy, empathy remained a separate construct that includes both cognitive and emotional responding to others’ emotions. Chapter 4 shifted focus to empathy to examine how this social practice relates to dysphoria and social functioning. The last study first examined how empathy relates to dysphoria. Results showed that only personal distress, one component of empathy, was associated with greater dysphoria. The final study also examined if the empathy x emotion regulation interaction mediates the relationship between dysphoria and social functioning. Different patterns were observed for different emotion regulation types. The interaction between maladaptive, but not adaptive, emotion regulation strategies and empathy was correlated directly with social functioning. For individuals with negative cognitive emotion regulation strategies, greater empathy was associated with better social functioning, a relationship not present for individuals who do not use negative cognitive emotion regulation. Finally maladaptive, but not adaptive, emotion regulation significantly predicted social functioning after controlling for dysphoria.en
dc.description.restricted-thesisI am preparing several papers for publication based on the data I have presented in my thesis. I would like to request a restriction period of two years, as I will require time to prepare and submit the manuscripts.en
dc.format.extent2914415 bytes
dc.relation.ispartofseriesCanadian thesesen
dc.rightsThis publication is made available by the authority of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private study and research and may not be copied or reproduced except as permitted by the copyright laws without written authority from the copyright owner.en
dc.subjectSocial Functioningen
dc.subjectSocial Cognitionen
dc.subjectTheory of Minden
dc.subjectAttribution Styleen
dc.subjectEmotion Regulationen
dc.titleThe Roles of Theory of Mind and Empathy in the Relationship between Dysphoria and Poor Social Functioningen
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