Term of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Michael E. Nielsen

Committee Member 1

Rebecca Ryan

Committee Member 2

Janice Steirn

Abstract

The relationship between social media and empathy has not been explored extensively. Research on the expression of emotion and the association with empathy displayed on social media websites have been minimally explored. This study sought to support findings that chatting online leads to expressions of empathy (Rosen, 2012) and a positive relationship exists between conversing with others online and empathic expression (Ivcevic & Ambady, 2012. Empathic concern was hypothesized to show a positive relationship with one’s likelihood to chat, time on Facebook, and emotional connection to Facebook or Facebook usage. Empathic concern also was predicted to be greater among computer users, relative to tablet or mobile phone users. Finally, it was predicted that the extent to which one uses Facebook would be associated with greater expression of empathic concern. Pearson's r was calculated to assess the correlation of empathic concern with the variables likelihood to chat, time on Facebook, and Facebook usage, and an independent samples t-test was conducted in order to compare concern by device type. Analyses confirmed the positive correlation of empathic concern with likelihood to chat, time on Facebook, and Facebook usage, but did not find that empathy varied by device type. A regression analysis revealed that Facebook usage did not improve predictions of empathic concern beyond that of the control variables. Strengths, limitations and implications for future research were discussed.

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