Effects of Social Media Use on Cognitive and Affective Empathy
Whited, Kristin M.
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Previous research suggests an overall decrease in empathy and interpersonal skills. Studies implicate social media as a variable in these trends; however, much of this previous research has only been correlational. The present study examined the effects of social media use as well as face-to-face interpersonal interaction on state empathy and trait empathy. College students (N = 110) were randomly assigned to scroll through social media posts, participate in a face-to-face conversation, or complete a word search puzzle. They then completed measures of state empathy, trait empathy, amount of typical social media use, and amount of typical face-to-face interaction. It was hypothesized that increased typical social media use would be related to decreased trait empathy, and that participants in the interpersonal group would display the highest state empathy while those in the social media group would display the lowest. Significant effects of social media on state empathy were found.