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Internet and Social Media Age: What is the difference in Empathy across Generations of Therapists in the UK?

Ghiron, M. (2017). Internet and Social Media Age: What is the difference in Empathy across Generations of Therapists in the UK?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Empathy is an essential ingredient in therapy associated with client engagement and positive treatment outcomes. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the difference in selfreported empathy between Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennial therapists and between genders. Participants (N=246) completed a self-report questionnaire online survey on empathy and Internet and social media use. Empathy was measured using Davis’ (1983a) Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) composed of four subscales Empathic Concern, Perspective Taking, Personal Distress and Fantasy. Socio-demographic information on Internet based communication and social media use was collected. Across all generations, there were no observable differences in Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking. Millennials scores were significantly higher in Personal Distress (U = 2282, p = 0.01) and Fantasy (U = 2240, p < 0.01) compared to Baby Boomers. No significant difference was found between genders across all IRI subscales (p ˃ 0.01). A negative correlation was found between generations Internet based communication using a mobile phone and Empathic Concern (rs = - 0.167, p < 0.01), as well as social media use with Fantasy (p < 0.01) as well as from Empathic Concern (rs = -0.144, p = 0.02) and Fantasy (rs = -0.187, p < 0.01) from the mobile phone. The absence of observed differences in Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking across generations and heightened Personal Distress and Fantasy in Millennials is discussed in view of emotional regulation strategies, information and connection overload as well as increasing trends in narcissism. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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