Emotional Empathy and Facial Feedback

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We studied if emotional empathy is related to sensitivity to facial feedback. The participants, 112 students, rated themselves on the questionnaire measure of emotional empathy (QMEE) and were divided into one high and one low empathic group. Facial expressions were manipulated to produce a happy or a sulky expression. During the manipulation, participants rated humorous films with respect to funniness. These ratings were the dependent variable. No main effect of facial expression was found. However, a significant interaction between empathy and condition indicated that the high as compared to the low empathic group rated the films as being funnier in a happy condition and a tendency to be less funny in a sulky condition. On the basis of the present results we suggest emotional empathy to be one important and previously ignored factor to explain individual differences in effects of facial feedback.

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