Error monitoring and empathy: Explorations within a neurophysiological context

Azhani Amiruddin, Simone N. Fueggle, An T. Nguyen, Gilles E. Gignac, Karen L. Clunies-Ross, Allison M. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Past literature has proposed that empathy consists of two components: cognitive and affective empathy. Error monitoring mechanisms indexed by the error-related negativity (ERN) have been associated with empathy. Studies have found that a larger ERN is associated with higher levels of empathy. We aimed to expand upon previous work by investigating how error monitoring relates to the independent theoretical domains of cognitive and affective empathy. Study 1 (N=24) explored the relationship between error monitoring mechanisms and subcomponents of empathy using the Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy and found no relationship. Study 2 (N=38) explored the relationship between the error monitoring mechanisms and overall empathy. Contrary to past findings, there was no evidence to support a relationship between error monitoring mechanisms and scores on empathy measures. A subsequent meta-analysis (Study 3, N=125) summarizing the relationship across previously published studies together with the two studies reported in the current paper indicated that overall there was no significant association between ERN and empathy and that there was significant heterogeneity across studies. Future investigations exploring the potential variables that may moderate these relationships are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-873
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


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