Comparative Effects of Empathic Verbal Responses: Reflection Versus Validation

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The comparative effects of different types of empathic verbal responses were identified through a quantitative, experimental study. In particular, the study explored how reflection and validation interacted with negative emotions among 80 university student participants (29 men, 51 women). Participants were manipulated to experience social exclusion through a game and were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups (control/reflection/validation). Findings indicated varied levels of affects among groups. Both reflection and validation as an empathic verbal response increased sense of belonging, whereas validation increased self-esteem more than reflection did. Moreover, validation was more effective than reflection in lowering both negative mood and aggression toward the people who excluded the participant. Implications and future directions for research and training are discussed.

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