, 3:16 | Cite as

Une anatomie de l’empathie

  • Jean Decety
Psychologie Et Neuropsychiatrie Cognitives


L’empathie est fondée sur notre capacité à reconnaître implicitement qu’autrui est semblable à soi mais sans confusion entre soi-même et l’autre. Elle peut être déclenchée intentionnellement en se mettant à la place de l’autre. L’empathie implique non seulement un partage affectif avec l’autre mais aussi une compréhension des états mentaux de cette personne. Cet article propose un modèle multidimensionnel de l’empathie dont la résponance affective, la flexibilité mentale pour adopter le point de vue subjectif d’autrui, la régulation des émotions constituent les composantes de base. Ces composantes sont modulées par des processus motivationnels et attentionnels et sont sous-tendues par des systèmes neuro-cognitifs distribués et dissociables (dans le cortex préforntal et pariétal de l’hémisphère droit). On peut, à partir de ce modèle fonctionnel, prédire des troubles de l’intersubjectivité et de l’emphathie distincts selon que l’un ou l’autre des composants est endommagé ou non opérationnel.


Empathie Régulation émotionnelle Flexibilité mentale Théorie de l’esprit 

An anatomy of empathy


Empathy refers to an emotional response that emanates either from the emotional state of another individual or from adopting another’ psychological point of view without losing sight of whose feelings belong to whom. This response is contingent on emotional as well as cognitive factors. Empathy involves not only the affective experience of the other person’s actual or inferred emotional state but also some minimal recognition and understanding of another’s emotional state. This article proposes, in the light of multiple levels of analysis ranging from clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, a model of empathy that involves parallel and distributed processing in a number of dissociable computational mechanisms (in the prefrontal and parietal cortices of the right hemisphere). Affective sharing, self-awareness, mental flexibility and emotion regulation constitute the basic macro-components of empathy, which are underpinned by specific neural systems. This functional model is used to make specific predictions about the various empathy deficits that can be encountered in different forms of social and neurological disorders.


Empathy Emotion regulation Mental flexibility Theory of mind 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.laboratoire Social Cognitive Neuroscience, Etats-UnisSeattle
  2. 2.Institute for Learning and Brain SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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