Understanding Antisocial Behaviors: The Roles of Sensation Seeking and Subtypes of Empathy


There is limited research on how subtypes of empathy predict subtypes of antisocial behaviors and the role of sensation seeking traits in it. Therefore the current study used an online survey with 17-25 years old N= 540 undergraduate students to investigate the relationship between three subtypes of empathy (emotional reactivity, cognitive empathy and social skills) and two subtypes of antisocial (physically aggressive and non-aggressive) behaviors, as well as the role of sensation seeking in moderating this relationship. The Demographic variables questionnaire, Brief Sensation Seeking Scale, Empathy Quotient and the Antisocial Behavior Measure were used. Spearman’s rank correlational tests, regression and a 2 way ANOVA with interactions were used to analyse the data. The results revealed a significant negative correlation between the three subtypes of empathy and the two subtypes of antisocial behavior. Emotional reactivity emerged as the most significant predictor of antisocial behaviors regardless of the subtype. Sensation seeking also emerged as a significant predictor of both subtypes of antisocial behavior. Interestingly, however, a complex significant interaction emerged between sensation seeking and subtypes of empathy in predicting subytpes of antisocial behaviors. High sensation seeking with low emotional reactivity, and high sensation seeking with low social skills predicted physically aggressive behaviors whereas low sensation seeking with low social skills predicted non-aggressive behaviors. In addition, high sensation seeking with low cognitive empathy and low sensation seeking with high cognitive empathy predicted non-aggressive behaviors. The results reveal the need to consider sensation seeking as well as empathy when analyzing antisocial behaviors.

Author Information
Saima Eman, University of Sheffield, UK
Rod I Nicolson, University of Sheffield, UK
Mark Blades, University of Sheffield, UK

Paper Information
Conference: NACP2014
Stream: Qualitative/Quantitative Research in any other area of Psychology

This paper is part of the NACP2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon