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Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 2075-3470

ISSN (online): 2311-9446

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/cpp

Started in 1992

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Empathic Ability In The Context Of The Subjectivity Problem

Kholmogorova A.B., Doctor in Psychology, Professor, Head of the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Psychological Counseling, MSUPE, Moscow, Russia, kholmogorova@yandex.ru
Klimenkova E.N., Post-graduate Student, Chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, State Budget Educational Institution of Higher Professional Education Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, klimenkovaliza@gmail.com
Abstract
The article discusses the connection between the phenomena of empathy and subjectivity from the standpoint of cultural and historical psychology (L.S. Vygotsky) and the reflexive-activity approach (V.K. Zaretsky and others). We conduct a meth- odological analysis of the sources of empathic abilities and subjectivity (sense of agency, intentionality) in anthropogenesis (M. Tomasello), investigate the common roots of these phenomena in the development of dialogical thinking in ontogenesis (C. Fernyhough), and postulate a hypothesis on the interrelation of their higher, mature forms. We present the results of the empirical study of empathy and subjec- tivity in university and college students (N=154). In the group of university students, the relationship between empathic ability, perspective taking, emotional support and position of agency in learning is revealed. College students have a lower level of em- pathic abilities and a greater degree of objective (passive) and negative positions in the learning activity, their position of agency is weakly connected to perspective tak- ing and shows a significant negative correlation with personal distress. Conclusion: students with a more pronounced subjective position (stronger sense of agency) have a stronger empathic ability, which confirms the initial hypothesis. This article was prepared with the financial support of a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (grant № 14-18-03461) at the Federal Medical Research Centre of Psychiatry and Narcology under the Ministry of Public Health of the Russian Federation.

Keywords: subjectivity, empathy, cultural-historic psychology, dialogical thinking, reflective-activity approach, empathic concern, personal distress, position of agency

Column: Special topic: “The problem of empathy in modern culture”

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/cpp.2017250205

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