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Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría

versão impressa ISSN 0034-7450


MATALLANA, Diana et al. The Recognition of Emotions, Empathy and Moral Judgment in the National Mental Health Survey in Colombia, 2015. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. [online]. 2016, vol.45, suppl.1, pp.96-104. ISSN 0034-7450.

Abstract Background: Social cognition refers to the mental processes involved in social interactions. Different aspects, such as the perception of others, self-knowledge, motivation and the cultural context, can modulate empathy responses and moral judgments regarding the actions of others. The National Mental Health Survey (ENSM for its acronym in Spanish) explored aspects of social cognition such as the perception of emotions, empathy and moral judgment in situations in which another person experiences pain. Objective: To describe the overall findings of the ENSM in relation to the emotional perception and empathic responses to situations where pain is inflicted on others in an intentional or accidental manner. Methods: A total of 3863 people aged 18-96 years old completed the social cognition module. They were asked to identify the emotions expressed in the images of several faces. A modified version of the awareness of social inference test (TASIT) was used. Additionally, the cognitive, affective, and moral elements of empathy were assessed with a modified version of the empathy for pain task (EPT), which uses a sequence of images in which someone is being hurt. Results: Happiness was identified by 91.5% of those interviewed; neutral or emotionless faces were identified by 65%; 55% of respondents correctly identified surprise. Only 19.7%, 21.8% and 27.4% could identify negative emotions like fear, disgust and sadness, respectively. When the data were analysed by age, poverty status, and different regions of the country, the results tend to vary. As regards empathy, 73.7% correctly identified intentional actions, and accidental actions were identified by 56.6%. According to the moral judgment of some respondents, even in situations where the pain was caused by accident, there must be some kind of punishment (20.7% deserved a low punishment and 26.8% a moderate one). Conclusions: Noteworthy findings include the high recognition of happiness by the respondents, in contrast to the apparent difficulty in recognising sadness, and paradoxical results regarding punishment and empathy. This should be studied in greater detail, but these results can contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex Colombian social context.

Palavras-chave : Emotions; Empathy Social; Psychology.

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