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Nourkova V.V. (2020). Cultural development of Empathy-identication and Empathy-modeling. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], 13(3), 3–17. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0401


Background. The article develops the concept of the originality of the functions, structure and genesis of empathy-identification (EI) and empathy-modeling (EM). EI is viewed as a psychological tool for organizing joint activities such as a mono-role coalition, which has developed in anthropogenesis, and consists in the ability to appropriate the emotional states of another person. In contrast, EM is a cultural technology for maintaining joint activity such as poly-role coordination, which requires the subject of activity to create and maintain in consciousness a dynamic representation of the mental state of another person while maintaining the authenticity of awareness of his own mental state. A consequence of the conceptual separation of EO and EM is the provision of two non-matching lines of their development in ontogenesis.

Objective. The aim of the article is to explicate the qualitative uniqueness of EI and EM as higher mental functions in relation to the social situation of their development and the arsenal of ideal forms, cultural means and technologies that set the content and trajectory of this development.

Design. From the standpoint of cultural-evolutionary and activity-based approaches, a conceptual analysis of literature relevant to the connotative field of the proposed constructs of EI (affective empathy, emotional contamination, emotional mimicry, imitation) and EM (theory of the mental, everyday psychology, mentalization, emotional intelligence) as well as the analysis of EI and EM constructs from the point of view of cultural determination of their development in ontogenesis was performed.

Results. It has been substantiated that EI is formed in the process of dyadic joint experience with an adult of various mental states, which an adult presents first in a visual way, and then verbally. Further development of EI takes place in play activities that include imagination. EI rarely reaches the level of complete voluntary regulation and needs to rely on external cultural means. EM is derived from the dialogical nature of human thinking. In ontogeny, EM is formed along two converging lines. On the one hand, mastering the mental vocabulary serves as the basis of “emotional literacy”, and, on the other hand, EM is the result of the interiorizationof a specific social and communicative position –the autonomization of an adult as a mental agent in the third person. The role-playing game with the subjective “animation” of the toy is of particular importance for the development of EM. At an older age, various forms of dramatization, in particular theatrical activity, act as cultural practices for the development of EM.

Conclusions. The results of the work showed that EI and EM have different sources, driving forces, ideal forms and socio-cultural technologies of formation. The originality of the lines of cultural determination of the development of EI and EM is associated with the difference in their functional role in organizing joint activities.

Received: 07/20/2020
Accepted: 08/06/2020
Pages: 3-17
DOI: 10.11621/npj.2020.0401

Sections: Methodology; Methods;


Keywords: empathy; cultural-evolutionary approach; activity approach; development of higher mental functions

Available Online 30.10.2020

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For citing this article:

Nourkova V.V. (2020). Cultural development of Empathy-identication and Empathy-modeling. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], 13(3), 3–17. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0401

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