Differences in Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking Across 63 Countries
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Cultural practices socialize people to relate to others in different ways. One critical way in which these interpersonal bonds are formed and maintained is via empathy, our emotional reactivity toward others’ experiences. However, the extent to which individuals from different cultures vary in their dispositional empathy, and the correlates of these differences, are relatively unknown. Thus, the current study explored cultural variation in empathy, and how this variation is related to psychological characteristics and prosocial behavior across cultures. Evidence from an original sample of 104,365 adults across 63 countries reveals that higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behavior. These findings reveal that empathy is situated within a broader nomological network of other psychological characteristics, emotional expression and experiences, and prosocial behavior across cultures. The current study expands our understanding about how psychological characteristics vary across cultures and how these characteristics can manifest in broader national indicators of prosocial behavior.