Sensation Seeking or Empathy? Physically Aggressive and Non-Aggressive Antisocial Behaviors (ASBs) Amongst University Students

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Authors: Saima Eman, Roderick I. Nicolson & Mark Blades, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Email: saima.eman@sheffield.ac.uk
Published: December 2015
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpbs.1.1.05

Citation: Eman, S., Nicolson, R. I., & Blades, M. (2015). Sensation Seeking or Empathy? Physically Aggressive and Non-Aggressive Antisocial Behaviors (ASBs) Amongst University Students. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpbs.1.1.05


Abstract

Previous research has linked anti-social behavior (ASB) to subtypes of empathy and also to sensation seeking, but there is limited research on the relative roles of empathy subtypes and sensation seeking traits in predicting ASB subtypes. The current study therefore investigated the relationship between sensation seeking, the three subtypes of empathy (emotional reactivity, cognitive empathy and social skills) and the two subtypes of ASB (physically aggressive and non-aggressive). An online survey consisting of Demographic Variables Questionnaire, Brief Sensation Seeking Scale, Empathy Quotient and the Antisocial Behavior Measure was sent to student volunteers, leading to a total of 537 respondents. Empathy alone accounted for a relatively modest proportion of the total variance in the ASBs, with emotional reactivity being the only significant predictor. Adding sensation seeking to the regression led to a marked improvement in prediction for non-aggressive ASB and a slight but significant improvement for physically aggressive ASB. Sensation seeking, emotional reactivity and social skills (but not cognitive empathy) contributed unique variance for both ASB subtypes. The greatest variance for physically aggressive and non-aggressive ASB were accounted for by emotional reactivity and sensation seeking, respectively. The results indicate that both sensation seeking and sub-types of empathy are important in predicting ASBs. This has theoretical implications for different personality models and has practical implications for the development of preventive measures to avoid such behaviors.

Keywords

antisocial behavior (ASB), conduct disorders, emotional reactivity, cognitive empathy, sensation seeking, assault, physically aggressive