Background. The manuscript provides a synthetic review of the multiple understandings of the concept of empathy. Recent studies generally limit their focus to some aspects of empathy; alternatively, others adopt a top-down methodology for conceptualization of its dimensions rather than the analysis of the multiple regulation of processes that result in empathy. This review is timely and relevant not only because it compares various types of empathy but also because it provides an analysis of the involvement of various empathy processes in a wide plethora of relationships.
Objective. The goa of the review was to establish the conceptual framework for the understanding of multiple types of empathy involvement in cognitive and affective/personality domains, as well as of theoretical discrepancies that can be overcome from the standpoint of unity of intellect and affect.
Methods. This synthetic review elucidates fundamental dichotomies that are central to understanding of empathy (cognitive-affective; immediate-mediated; situational-dispositional etc) as well as the wide range of associations established between empathy, emotional intelligence, and unstable personality core traits such as the Dark Triad.
Results. The results of the study are based on the systematic review of theories of empathy and suggest the need for differentiation between empathy as a product and empathy as a set of processes that might through different pathways achieve the same result and product — empathy. Thus, we argue that the seeming inconsistency between the multiple types of empathy can be resolved by postulating that it is subject to the principle of dynamic regulative systems (DRS) that allow for a rich combination of hierarchical structures of cognitive and emotional processes. This approach assumes that multiple processes underly regulation of empathy. This idea is rooted in Vygotsky’s idea of the unity of intellect and affect, pointing to the pivotal role of empathy as the binding and mediating trait between cognitive and personality/affective domains.
Conclusion. The review lays the foundation for the approach that omits the development of partial theories of empathy in favor of viewing it as a resulting product of multiple processes. Different types and forms of empathy that are frequently discussed in the literature reflect the development of hierarchical dynamic systems and processes.
Kornilova, T.V. (2022). The Unity of Intellect and Affect in Multidimensional Regulation of Empathy, National Psychological Journal [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], 1 (45), 94–103