Empathy as Related to Sex, Personal Qualities, Clinical Competence, and Career Choice



In this chapter, I describe the link between empathy, sex, personality, and selected psychosocial variables.Women are endowed with a greater capacity for empathy than men are because they begin demonstrating more sensitivity to social stimuli and emotional signals at an early age and because of their care-oriented qualities resulting from evolutionary history and social learning. Empathy correlates positively with prosocial and altruistic behaviors and with a number of desirable personal qualities, including sociability, social skills, likeability, flexibility, tolerance, emotional intelligence, moral judgment, sense of humor, and sensitivity.Along list of undesirable personal attributes, including aggressiveness, externalization, antisocial behaviors, hostility, depression, anxiety, introversion, conduct disorders, neurotic or psychotic disturbances, lying, stealing, physical abuse, and dogmatism correlate negatively with empathy. Also, satisfaction with the early relationship with themother, selectionof a career in medicine forhumanistic reasons,and attention to psychosocial issues in medicine have been linked to empathy. Empirical data suggests that scores on empathy are associated with indicators of clinical competence and with career choice. Individuals who choose people-oriented specialties are more likely to obtain higher average scores on empathy than those interested in procedure- or technology-oriented specialties.


Medical Student Prosocial Behavior Emotional Intelligence Personal Quality Female Physician 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research in Medical Education and Health CareJefferson Medical CollegePhiladelphia

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