Affective Empathy and Emotional Contagion - A look into theory and critique of measurement scales
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- Master of Science 
Positive, negative and neutral emotional expressions transfer information about feelings, and attitudes towards other people. In organizations with high interaction among humans, emotion research is becoming increasingly important. Emotional contagion processes are relevant in micro-level, within and between-person factors, however, it is also relevant in macro-level, group and organizational processes, influencing organizational outcomes. Further, understanding how individual differences such as empathy affect people’s susceptibility to emotional contagion is of great advantage when working with people and understanding human interaction. Therefore, having appropriate measurements for concepts such as emotional contagion and empathy are of great importance. This article demonstrates that when measured with validated and often used scales, such as the Susceptibility to Emotional Contagion scale (ECS; Doherty, 1997) and Basic Empathy Scale (BES; Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006), susceptibility to emotional contagion and affective empathy are not measuring distinct constructs. Moreover, analyzing measurement of such constructs and the items used in correspondence to established definitions of these construct reveal interesting results. By adding items reflecting positive emotions to the measurement of affective empathy, one may actually capture more of the construct than how it is measured in already validated scales. We call for consistent use of definitions as well as re-evaluation of scales used. Moreover, we point to the necessity of research on the mechanisms behind emotional contagion and empathy to obtain a more complete understanding of the timeline and processes of these constructs for further development of measurements that measure what they say to measure.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Leadership and Organizational Psychology - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2018