The Roles of Empathy and Narcissism

Abstract

The identification of psychological and interpersonal factors that predict cooperation and agreement between ex-spouses is important to understanding, and eventually promoting, healthy postdivorce adjustment of parents and their children. By drawing on object relations theory, the authors identified differences between 16 ex-couples who were able to negotiate and maintain a cooperative parenting plan after separation (''agreed ex-couples") and 16 ex-couples who disagree about parenting arrangements ("disagreed ex-couples") but were similar in age, educational background, age of their children, and time since separation. As expected, disagreed ex-couples were more narcissistic, more inlerpersonally vulnerable, less able to take another's perspective, less concerned about the feelings and needs of others, more self-orienled, and less child-oriented and more self-important in their parenting attitudes than agreed ex-couples. Our findings also supported a process mediational model of "child-ccnteredness" that attempts to elucidate the pathways through which these variables are interrelated. This model suggests that ex-couples' empathy is associated directly with child-oriented but not self-important parenting attitudes, whereas self-orientation is associated directly with selfimportant but not child-oriented attitudes. A self-serving orientation on the part of ex-couples does, however, relate to child-oriented parenting attitudes indirectly through self-important parenting attitudes.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Ehrenberg2010TheRO, title={The Roles of Empathy and Narcissism}, author={Marion F. Ehrenberg and Michael A. Hunter and Michael F. Elterman and Martin Sherer}, year={2010} }