Empathic ability and perceptual disposition.
Peebles, Richard R
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between two variables: empathic ability, the ability to perceive another person as that person perceives himself; and perceptual disposition, the characteristic organization of the perceptual-cognitive response pattern. Theoretically, both variables are related to psychological adjustment. With respect to process, a relationship between the variables is assumed in terms of the observer's flexibility in selecting phenomena for interpretation and in forming and revising interpretative hypotheses in the direction of the subject's own frame of reference. [TRUNCATED] It is concluded that there is a relationship between empathic ability and perceptual disposition as presently defined. In view of the homogeneity of the experimental population, no generalization beyond this group and its characteristics is actually warranted by the present findings. Also, the many factors which may be involved in actual interaction between observer and subject are absent in the present experiment, and must be considered in applying the present findings to the empathic process as it operates in everyday life. Two lines of future research are suggested. One is the exploration of the content of predictive hypotheses made by successful and unsuccessful observers, and by the different perceptual disposition groups. The second is the investigation of the etiological correlates of the perceptual dispositions. For clinical psychology, the overall aim of such research would be to study learning readiness in interpersonal relationships as it relates to psychological health.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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