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Harmful Attributions: The Role of Mind Perception

Silva, C; Tsay, C-J; (2019) Harmful Attributions: The Role of Mind Perception. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 38 (9) pp. 788-809. 10.1521/jscp.2019.38.9.788. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: Drawing from literature in social and clinical psychology, we explore mechanisms associated with the lack of empathy for people who engage in self-injurious behaviors. Methods: Using implicit and explicit measures across three samples, we tested whether knowledge of prior self-injury impacts observers’ empathy, perceived agency, perspective taking, and willingness to help a target individual. Results: We found in Studies 1-2 that observers report decreased empathy, perceive less agency, and make more dispositional attributions toward a person who engages in deliberate self-injury, compared to accidental injury. Study 3 indicates that observers perceive a target who engaged in deliberate selfinjury to have lower agency. Furthermore, when evaluating a target who has been victimized, observers report less empathy, compassion, and likelihood of helping if the target has a history of deliberate self-injury. Perceived agency accounted for decreased empathy, whereas empathy accounted for lower likelihood of helping. Discussion: Our findings imply that observers may be better able to empathize with people with a history of self-injury if they focus on the agency of the individual and situational causal explanations for the behavior.

Type: Article
Title: Harmful Attributions: The Role of Mind Perception
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2019.38.9.788
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2019.38.9.788
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: person perception, empathy, agency, attribution, self-injury
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > UCL School of Management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122743
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