Accuracy in empathic and trait judgements: The quest for the good judge, good target, good trait and good relationship (1999)
AuthorsThomas, Geoffshow all
This research examined the moderators of judgement accuracy in three studies. Study 1 tested three moderators of empathic accuracy assessed during close relationship interaction: (1) the ability of the judge, (2) the readability of the target, and (3) the level of acquaintanceship. The design involved multiple perceivers judging multiple targets. Fifty dating couples reviewed videotapes of their prior problem-solving discussions and described both their own on-line cognitions and those of their partners. Fifty friends of the couples and 50 strangers later inferred the on-line cognitions of the same dating couples while observing the videotapes of their interactions. In addition, all three groups observed another videotape of two married couples' problem-solving interactions (strangers to the entire sample) and attempted the same empathic accuracy task. As predicted, the results revealed evidence for the good judge and good relationship, but not the good target. Increased relationship closeness was associated with higher accuracy. Both attributional complexity and verbal intelligence predicted empathic performance (but at different levels of acquaintanceship) and women were consistently superior to men. Several mediational models were tested, the results of which showed that female partners' problem-specific disclosure to the friend mediated the link between (a) female partners' attributional complexity and their empathic accuracy, and (b) friends' closeness to the female partner and their empathic accuracy.