Category: Adult Depression / Dysthymia

PS14- #A13 - Family Variables as They Relate to Empathy Development and Influence on Depression and Romantic Attachment in Latino Emerging Adults

Saturday, Nov 18
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Indigo CDGH

Keywords: Adult Depression | Hispanic American/ Latinx | Families

Empathy is a multi-dimension construct (Eisenberg & McNaly, 1993; Lietz et al., 2011) composed of cognitive and emotional aspects (Davis, 1983). Perspective taking refers to when a person can cognitively put themselves in another person’s shoes (Davis, 1983). Responsive distress refers to the tendency to feel negative emotions when around other people who are expressing negative emotions. Conversely, responsive joy refers to the propensity to feel positive emotions when around others who are expressing positive emotions. Extremely few studies have examined empathy development or outcomes of empathy in Latinas/os. The purpose of this study is to investigate how different aspects of empathy can partially mediate the relationships between family qualities and two outcomes in Latina/o university students. Data were collected from 2160 Latina/o university students (71.4% women, mean age = 19.0) at one university in a psychology subject pool comprised of students in lower division, general education psychology course. Depressive symptoms and secure romantic attachment were selected as the outcomes because (1) any current depression was most predominant in young adults (18-24 years) compared to other age groups (CDC, 2010), and (2) developing a secure romantic attachment is a developmental task during emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2011). Path analyses showed that responsive distress was positively related to depressive symptoms negatively related to secure romantic attachment. Responsive joy was negatively related to depression, and perspective taking was positively related to romantic attachment. Parental support and family flexibility were negatively related to depression, while psychological control was positively related to depression. Psychological control was also negatively related to romantic attachment. Family cohesion and psychological control were indirectly related to depression through responsive joy. Separate models were also run for genders, and some differences did emerge; which will be discussed in the presentation. The results suggest multiple points of intervention when trying to decrease depressive symptoms and increase secure romantic attachment in Latina/o university students. CBT practitioners can help minimize responsive distress and increase both responsive joy and perspective taking. In addition, CBT practitioners can help Latina/o university students identify and recognize supportive gestures by parents as well as indicators of family cohesion and flexibility. And finally, CBT practitioners can help Latina/o university students reframe parental psychological control into signs of caring behaviors.

Mineh Nazari Masihi

Student
California State University Northridge
Sunland, California

Paymon Jalali

Graduate Student
California State University Northridge
Northridge, California

Bryan Denq

Student
California State University Northridge
Northridge, California

Scott W. Plunkett

Professor
California State University, Northridge
Northridge, California