"Trust me...": psychological and behavioral predictors of perceived physician empathy

J Appl Psychol. 2007 Mar;92(2):519-27. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.2.519.


A sociocognitive model of distal and proximal predictors of empathic judgments was tested among 100 physicians. The authors hypothesized that physician perceived control would affect empathy ratings via physician communication style. Specifically, physicians with high perceived control would use more open communication and be rated as more empathic. Physicians with low perceived control would use a controlling communication style and be rated as less empathic. Physicians completed a medical attribution questionnaire prior to a structured patient consultation exercise, during which patients and assessors rated physician empathy. The exercise was audiotaped, transcribed, and content analyzed for verbal behaviors. Support was found for the hypotheses; however, patients, but not medical assessors, associated empathy with reassurance and provision of medical information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust*