Negative arousability and relationship satisfaction: The mediating role of empathy

Keywords: temperament; negative arousability; empathy; relationship satisfaction


Temperamental traits and empathy are both associated with emotional regulation; they thus shape both the quality of an individual’s life and the functioning of his or her social relationships. However, the mediating effects of emotional empathy in the relationship between temperamental characteristics and relationship satisfaction have not been closely analyzed and therefore require further study. This study examined the effects of temperamental arousability – global negative arousability and its components (fear, sadness, discomfort, frustration) – on emotional empathy and, consequently, on relationship satisfaction. One hundred and fifty young adults (104 women, 46 men) aged 20 to 35 participated in the study. The participants had been in romantic relationships for at least six months. The study used a sociodemographic survey and a set of questionnaires which included the Adult Temperament Questionnaire – Short Form, the Empathic Sensitiveness Scale and the RELAT Questionnaire. The results showed that empathic concern fully mediated the relationship between global negative arousability and relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, the effects of fear and sadness on relationship satisfaction were fully mediated by empathic concern and personal distress. Additionally, personal distress fully mediated the relationship between discomfort and relationship satisfaction. Neither empathic concern nor personal distress were mediators in the relationship between frustration and relationship satisfaction. It can therefore be concluded that although partners who exhibit higher global negative arousability report lower relationship satisfaction, they might become more satisfied when being more compassionate and caring towards others.


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