Towards the development of a coding scheme for the quantification of interpersonal empathic behaviour

Christine Spencer, Alexandra Main, Gary McKeown

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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We present a validated, open-source, evidence-based approach for the coding and quantification of interpersonal behaviour. The phenomenon of empathy is a complex and ambiguous phenomenon, which is currently being defined in numerous different ways, resulting in the use of many different assessment approaches. However, as most approaches focus on the personal outcomes for the empathiser, there is a need for greater focus on the examination of empathic behaviour at the interpersonal level, in order to enhance our understanding of the temporal dynamics of the empathising process in a live, evolving interaction (Main, Walle, Kho & Halpern, 2017). Several studies were conducted to enhance our current understanding of the communicative behaviours that signal empathic understanding to a conversational partner, in an everyday interaction. These behaviours were integrated into a coding scheme. The Interpersonal Coding of Empathy Scheme was therefore developed to operationalise and quantify interpersonal empathic behaviour in a social interaction. Designed to be flexible, the scheme can be adapted to suit a research team’s resources and time constraints. It can be used to rate empathic behaviour intensity per X-sec intervals, or can be used with annotation software to label changes in empathic behaviour level across time. The scheme therefore allows the in-depth examination of changing empathy levels over the course an interaction. An excerpt of our coding scheme can be found on ResearchGate. Please email for the full scheme.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 04 Apr 2018
EventConsortium of European Research on Emotion - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 04 Apr 201805 Apr 2018


ConferenceConsortium of European Research on Emotion
Abbreviated titleCERE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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