Empathy's Relation to Appraisal of the Emotional Child Witness Article

Bederian-Gardner, D, Goldfarb, D, Goodman, GS. (2017). Empathy's Relation to Appraisal of the Emotional Child Witness . APPLIED COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, 31(5), 488-499. 10.1002/acp.3345

cited authors

  • Bederian-Gardner, D; Goldfarb, D; Goodman, GS


  • When observing others, we often try to determine how they ‘really feel’ deep down inside (emotional feeling) regardless of their outward expression (emotional appearance). We examined whether child victim empathy predicts appraisal of a child sexual assault victim's emotional feelings and, in turn, child and defendant believability and verdict decisions. Undergraduates (N = 50) rated photographs of 5- and 13-year-olds' degree of sadness. Then, a new group of undergraduates (N = 354), randomly assigned within a 2 (victim age) × 2 (victim gender) × 3 (victim sadness: low, medium, and high/teary) factorial design, read trial scenarios accompanied by one of the photographs. Participants rated the victim's emotional feeling and emotional appearance, victim and defendant believability, defendant guilt, and confidence in their verdict. A structural equation model that included a relation between empathy and emotion appraisal fit the data well: Empathy predicted appraisal of the victim's feelings, which, in turn, predicted perceived believability. Implications are discussed.Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

publication date

  • September 1, 2017

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 488

end page

  • 499


  • 31


  • 5