On the basis of the familiarity-empathy assumption that self-disclosure evokes empathy for the speaker, it was predicted that a victim's self-disclosure would inhibit aggression against the victim. Female Japanese subjects were asked to give electric shocks to a female victim who disclosed information about herself, was not given an opportunity to do so, or rejected disclosure. Independently of self-disclosure, another empathy arousal was introduced, that is, whether or not the victim expressed her fear of shocks before they were delivered. Consistent with our hypothesis, subjects selected less severe shocks when the victim disclosed information about herself than when she was not given an opportunity to do so or when she rejected self-disclosure. The victim's expression of fear was also very effective in reducing subjects' aggression, suggesting that drawing subjects' attention to the victim's negative emotional state evoked empathy for her and reduced their aggression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology