Yoon, Hyun Hee (2014-08). Cultural Influence on Empathy: Cross-Cultural Comparison between Korean and Korean American Adolescents. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This study investigated differing influence of cultural context on the components of empathy by examining matching ethnic groups of youths growing up immersed in two different cultures, collectivistic Korea and the individualistic United States. Data was collected in Korea (N=416) and in the United States (N=215) for both boys and girls ages 11-17. Participants in both groups completed a measure of empathy that is the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and Triandis' cultural orientation scale. The Korean American group was asked to complete a bicultural identity scale, the Cortes, Rogler, and Malgady Bicultural Scale (CRM-BS), and a demographic questionnaire. As the preliminary process, factor analysis was conducted to validate the factor structure of IRI. The results did not yield an acceptable fit for the IRI for either the Korean or Korean American dataset. Only partial constructs pertaining to each group yielded an admissible internal consistency, and these were used for the next analysis. Empathic Concern and Fantasy factors were retained for the Korean American group. Perspective Taking, Fantasy, and Personal Distress factors were retained for the Korean group. Individuals' internal cultural orientations were used as the predictors of empathy constructs for each group. Individuals who scored high on collectivism also scored high on Empathic Concern, while individuals who scored high on individualism scored low on Empathic Concern in the Korean American group. Additionally, collectivism and horizontal orientation both significantly predicted Fantasy in the Korean American group. Collectivism and horizontal dimension significantly predicted Perspective Taking and Fantasy in the Korean group. Personal Distress was significantly predicted by the horizontal-vertical dimension, but not by the collectivism-individualism. Finally, the Korean American group's acculturation status, language fluency, subjective identity, and duration of stay in the United States were used as the predictor for Empathic Concern and Fantasy in the Korean American group. Results were not significant for any of those predictors. Findings indicated different features of empathy constructs between the Korean and Korean American group, perhaps supporting a differing influence of cultural attributes. In addition, a notable finding of this study is that collectivism was significant in predicting cognitive and affective empathy positively.
  • This study investigated differing influence of cultural context on the components of empathy by examining matching ethnic groups of youths growing up immersed in two different cultures, collectivistic Korea and the individualistic United States. Data was collected in Korea (N=416) and in the United States (N=215) for both boys and girls ages 11-17. Participants in both groups completed a measure of empathy that is the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and Triandis' cultural orientation scale. The Korean American group was asked to complete a bicultural identity scale, the Cortes, Rogler, and Malgady Bicultural Scale (CRM-BS), and a demographic questionnaire.

    As the preliminary process, factor analysis was conducted to validate the factor structure of IRI. The results did not yield an acceptable fit for the IRI for either the Korean or Korean American dataset. Only partial constructs pertaining to each group yielded an admissible internal consistency, and these were used for the next analysis. Empathic Concern and Fantasy factors were retained for the Korean American group. Perspective Taking, Fantasy, and Personal Distress factors were retained for the Korean group.

    Individuals' internal cultural orientations were used as the predictors of empathy constructs for each group. Individuals who scored high on collectivism also scored high on Empathic Concern, while individuals who scored high on individualism scored low on Empathic Concern in the Korean American group. Additionally, collectivism and horizontal orientation both significantly predicted Fantasy in the Korean American group. Collectivism and horizontal dimension significantly predicted Perspective Taking and Fantasy in the Korean group. Personal Distress was significantly predicted by the horizontal-vertical dimension, but not by the collectivism-individualism. Finally, the Korean American group's acculturation status, language fluency, subjective identity, and duration of stay in the United States were used as the predictor for Empathic Concern and Fantasy in the Korean American group. Results were not significant for any of those predictors.

    Findings indicated different features of empathy constructs between the Korean and Korean American group, perhaps supporting a differing influence of cultural attributes. In addition, a notable finding of this study is that collectivism was significant in predicting cognitive and affective empathy positively.

publication date

  • August 2014