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Employed Carers' Empathy Towards People with Intellectual Disabilities: The Development of a New Measure and Some Initial Theory

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Kirsten Collins
  • Caroline Gratton
  • Celia Heneage
  • Dave Dagnan
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)133-146
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/10/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background This study aimed to develop a self-report measure of paid caregivers' empathy towards people with intellectual disabilities.

Materials and Methods Following questionnaire development, 194 staff working in services for people with intellectual disabilities completed self-report questionnaires, including the new empathy measure. The measure's factor structure and psychometric properties were investigated.

Results A three factor solution suggested two key processes in empathizing: experiencing commonality between one's own and people with intellectual disabilities' psychological experiences and efforts to attune to their internal worlds. The final factor represented whether carers find it challenging to empathize. Correlations with beliefs about the self and others in caregiving relationships provided initial evidence of validity, although further investigation is needed.

Conclusions The most salient processes in empathizing with people with intellectual disabilities may be different from empathy in other contexts. Establishing determinants of carer empathy may facilitate the development of psychological interventions to promote and enhance this important quality.