Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science




Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Patrick Armstrong


This study built upon past psychological literature regarding social support and helpingbehaviors to investigate a new concept called “empathic decision-making”. Empathic decisionmaking refers to someone’s ability to conceptualize what supportive actions would be most helpful to a person under distress. This study aimed to apply empathic decision-making to vignettes as a means of validating the construct. Three hypotheses were examined. The first hypothesis expected the established constructs of empathic concern and accuracy to relate to empathic decision-making. However, there was not a significant correlation between empathic decision-making and these other forms of empathy. The second and third hypotheses proposed that empathic concern and accuracy, demographics, and personality variables would predict empathic decision-making. There was not significant evidence to validate these predictive relationships. Nonetheless, results showed an interesting pattern between the effectiveness of participants’ intervention choices and the amount of total interventions they chose. When determining a single ideal intervention, participants were more effective if they consistently chose the same interventions. Contrastingly, when participants were prompted to choose their top three interventions, participants were more effective when they chose a variety of interventions. These results indicate that empathic decision-making is a highly unique construct when compared to empathic concern and accuracy. Results also demonstrated that predictors measured in this study did not actually influence empathic decision-making. Lastly, the relationship between quality of interventions and range of interventions was significant but may also highlight how expert judge patterns characteristics influence the construct. Measurement concerns were evaluated, and future directions were discussed.


Copyright Owner

Pauline R Freud



File Format


File Size

121 pages