Preston and de Waal, 2002). The construct of empathy has been conceptualized as a
multi-dimensional process, involving cognitive and emotional components (Davis, 1996;
de Waal, 2008; Decety and Jackson, 2004; Mehrabian and Epstein, 1972; Smith, 2006;
Snow, 2000). Cognitive empathy entails socio-cognitive perspective taking (PT), in which the
empathizer takes the role and portrays in the mind the experiences of the observed person.
Cognitive empathy has thereby commonly been regarded as synonymous to the construct of
theory of mind –the attribution of another person’s mental states, such as beliefs, goals, desires,
intentions, etc. (Blair, 2005; Preston and de Waal, 2002; Rueckert and Naybar, 2008). Emotional
empathy refers to an affective process resulting from witnessing the quandary of others
(Batson et al., 1987; Eisenberg and Strayer, 1987; Hoffman, 2000). These emotional responses
generally involve other-focused feelings of concern, compassion, sympathy, and tenderness, and
are likely to motivate altruistic goals and prosocial actions (Decety and Meyer, 2008; Eisenberg
and Fabes, 1998; Hoffman, 1982, 2000). Although cognitive empathy and affective empathy
appear to be qualitatively distinct dimensions, some theorists argue that genuine empathy entails
the integration of both aspects of empathy; thus, both should be taken into consideration when
examining the construct of empathy (Cohen and Strayer, 1996; Smith, 2006).
Reports on offenders’levels of empathy as comparedto non-offenders have been conflicting,with
some indicating lower levels of cognitive empathy in offenders when compared to non-offenders
(e.g. Chandlerand Moran, 1990; Lee and Prentice, 1988),others indicating lower levels of affective
empathy, but not cognitive empathy, in delinquents when compared to non-delinquents
(e.g. Kaplan and Arbuthnot, 1985; Rotenberg, 1974). Still, others (e.g. Cohen and Strayer, 1996)
reported differences in both cognitive and affective empathy between conduct disordered and
non-conduct disordered youth. Goldstein andHiggins-D’Alessandro (2001), however, did not find
differencesin either cognitive or affectiveempathy between violent and non-violent offenders.Other
reports focuson how offending differentiallyrelates to cognitive and affectiveempathy, respectively.
Jolliffe and Farrington (2004), for example, conducted a meta-analysis on the relation between
offending andempathy and reported that low cognitive empathy was stronglyrelated to offending,
but low affective empathy was only weakly related to it. Similarly, Van Langen et al. (2014)
documented in a meta-analysis that the relation of offending with cognitive empathy was stronger
than with affective empathy. The discrepancies in thefindings across different studies may be due
to the lack of consensus on the definition of empathy, inconsistentassessment methods used for
empathy and offending, and varying levels of control for sample characteristics in the analyses,
including age, gender, type of offense, intelligence, socio-economic status(SES), etc. ( Jolliffe and
Farrington, 2004; Van Langen et al.,2014).
Early experiences with primary caregiver and empathy
Research has indicated the important role of parenting in the development of empathy (Eisenberg
and Valiente, 2002; Knafo et al., 2008; Koestner et al., 1990; Milikowska et al., 2011). Supportive
parenting has been found to satisfy children’s physical and emotional needs and encourage
children’s sense of self-worth and agency (Liem et al., 2010). In this way, children tend to be freed
from preoccupation with their own issues and become more morally sensitive and empathically
available for others (Eisikovits and Sagi, 1982; Grusec and Goodnow, 1994; Hoffman, 1975a, b;
Hoffman and Saltzstein, 1967; Larzelere et al., 1996, 1998; Soenens et al., 2007).
Parenting characteristics have been conceptualized as consisting of two separate dimensions:
care (acceptance-responsiveness) and control (demandingness-overprotection) (Darling and
Steinberg, 1993; Maccoby, 2007; Maccoby and Martin, 1983; Parker et al., 1979). Parental care
or acceptance-responsiveness is displayed in parents who are sensitive and responsive to their
children’s needs and provide appreciation and praise when their children meet their expectations.
Parental control or demandingness-overprotection refers to a too high level of protection or
control the parent has over the decisions of the child to an extent that the child is not allowed to
display autonomy. Inadequate parenting, particularly with characteristics of low parental care and
overprotection, has been linked to antisocial behaviors in children (Ehrensaft et al., 2003; Knutson
et al., 2004; Narusyte et al., 2007; Reti et al., 2002; Roche et al., 2007; Schaffer et al., 2009;
Smith and Farrington, 2004; Thornberry et al., 2003).
VOL. 7 NO. 4 2017
JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY