Literature supports the existence of a significant relationship between sleep quality/quantity and empathy. However, empathic ability and empathic propensity are distinct constructs. Expression of empathic propensity depends on the subjective cognitive costs attributed to the empathic experience. Studies on the effects of the experimental reduction in sleep duration on empathic behaviour are still lacking. Therefore, we investigated the consequences of 5 consecutive nights of sleep restriction on empathic propensity. A total of 42 university students (mean [SEM] age 24.09 [0.65] years; 22 females) underwent a cross-over design consisting of 5 consecutive nights of regular sleep and 5 consecutive nights of sleep restriction with a maximum of 5 hr sleep/night. After each condition, all participants were evaluated using the Empathy Selection Task, a new test assessing the motivated avoidance of empathy for its associated cognitive costs. The results showed different effects of sleep restriction depending on the habitual way of responding in the empathic context. Participants with baseline high levels of empathic propensity reduced their empathic propensity after prolonged sleep restriction. Differently, participants who tended to avoid empathising already in the habitual sleep condition maintained their empathic behaviour unchanged after sleep curtailment. In conclusion, inter-individual variability should be taken into account when evaluating the effects of sleep restriction on empathic propensity. People with habitual higher tendency to empathise could choose to avoid empathic experience following several consecutive nights of inadequate sleep.

The effect of 5 nights of sleep restriction on empathic propensity

Amicucci G.;Tempesta D.;Salfi F.;D'Atri A.;Viselli L.;Ferrara M.
2021

Abstract

Literature supports the existence of a significant relationship between sleep quality/quantity and empathy. However, empathic ability and empathic propensity are distinct constructs. Expression of empathic propensity depends on the subjective cognitive costs attributed to the empathic experience. Studies on the effects of the experimental reduction in sleep duration on empathic behaviour are still lacking. Therefore, we investigated the consequences of 5 consecutive nights of sleep restriction on empathic propensity. A total of 42 university students (mean [SEM] age 24.09 [0.65] years; 22 females) underwent a cross-over design consisting of 5 consecutive nights of regular sleep and 5 consecutive nights of sleep restriction with a maximum of 5 hr sleep/night. After each condition, all participants were evaluated using the Empathy Selection Task, a new test assessing the motivated avoidance of empathy for its associated cognitive costs. The results showed different effects of sleep restriction depending on the habitual way of responding in the empathic context. Participants with baseline high levels of empathic propensity reduced their empathic propensity after prolonged sleep restriction. Differently, participants who tended to avoid empathising already in the habitual sleep condition maintained their empathic behaviour unchanged after sleep curtailment. In conclusion, inter-individual variability should be taken into account when evaluating the effects of sleep restriction on empathic propensity. People with habitual higher tendency to empathise could choose to avoid empathic experience following several consecutive nights of inadequate sleep.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Amicucci et al., 2021.pdf

solo utenti autorizzati

Tipologia: Documento in Versione Editoriale
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 663.18 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
663.18 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/177333
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 2
  • Scopus 5
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 4
social impact