The present laboratory-based study investigated socioeconomic status (SES) as a moderator of the association between empathic accuracy and well-being among married couples from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Empathic accuracy was measured using a performance-based measure of empathic accuracy for one’s spouse’s negative emotions during a marital conflict conversation. Aspects of well-being included well-being (i.e., positive affect, life satisfaction), ill-being (i.e., negative affect, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms), and marital satisfaction. SES was measured using a composite score of income and education. Findings showed that SES moderated associations between empathic accuracy and well-being. Empathic accuracy was beneficial (for well-being and ill-being) or not harmful (for marital satisfaction) at low levels of SES. In contrast, empathic accuracy was not beneficial (for well-being and ill-being) or harmful (for marital satisfaction) at high levels of SES. Results were robust (controlled for age, gender, and race). Findings are discussed in light of interdependence vs. independence in low- vs. high-SES contexts and highlight the importance of socioeconomic context in determining whether empathic accuracy benefits well-being or not.
- Empathic accuracy
- socioeconomic status
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science