Fantasy component of interpersonal reactivity is associated with empathic accuracy: findings from behavioral experiments with implications for applied settings


Reading literature contributes to the development of language skills and socioemotional competencies related to empathic responding. Despite implications for improving measures of empathy used by practitioners interested in reading behavior and their applications to teaching empathic skills through literature, extensions to the ability to express empathic inference of interpersonal encounters, or empathic accuracy, remains an understudied area. Comparing which traits are associated with performance on tasks that require empathic accuracy could reveal more about underlying empathic processes and their characteristics for the benefit of practitioner tools and pedagogical choices for reading. Two studies were conducted to investigate possible relationships between self-reported constructs of interpersonal reactivity and an experimental paradigm that measures empathic accuracy. Experiment 1 investigated these relationships among participants having everyday conversations, and Experiment 2 examined the same variables in a context designed to emulate a counseling setting. In both cases, scores on the Fantasy self-report scale correlated with empathic accuracy scores. The results indicate that a tendency to consume fiction and engage in narrative transportation might play a role in the ability to accurately infer the internal state of others. Implications for reader involvement as learner engagement and consequential validity for instructional scaffolds are discussed.

Reading Psychology.
Shushi Namba
Shushi Namba

My research interests include distributed facial expression,computational modeling and programmable matter.