Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



A discussion of affective (or emotional) empathy as it is impacted by socioeconomic status (SES), life history, and biological sex is presented. The current study examined a gap in prior research by examining the interaction between these three variables and affective empathy. Participants were 504 adults between the ages of 18-68, with average age of 37 and primarily biological sex male (64%). Ethnicity varied with the majority as White/Caucasian (68.8%) followed in descending response rate by Hispanic or Latino/a, Black or African American, Asian, Native American or American Indian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 1.6% as two or more races and the majority of the sample (68%) reporting receiving a bachelor’s degree. Participants were assessed using Amazon Mechanical Turk or (MTurk) by completing an informed consent and survey. The survey consisted of demographic information (including biological sex), a measure of affective empathy (BEES; Mehrabian, 1996; 1997), a measure of SES (both objective and subjective), and a measure of life history (ALHB; Figueredo et al., 2017). These surveys were presented in randomized order to reduce potential order effects and a debriefing was provided after the study was completed. Two 2x2x3 factorial ANOVA(s) were used to analyze the collected data. A significant main effect of SES (assessed as high, moderate, or low) which found high and low SES showed more affective empathy than the moderate group, life history (assessed as a fast strategy or slow strategy) which found significant differences in males when the social support function of life history is included, and biological sex (assessed as female or male) on affective empathy where biological females showed more affective empathy than biological males. These main effects were qualified by a significant three-way interaction in which biological males with high SES and slow life history (social support resources) showed the most affective empathy. Further findings and implications are discussed.

Keywords: Affective Empathy, Socioeconomic Status, Life History, Sex, Factorial ANOVA


Dr. Whitney Whitaker

Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type



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