Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Timothy Hulsey

Committee Members

Leticia Flores, Heather Hirschfeld, Garriy Shteynberg


Empathic perspective taking is the psychological process that enables us to identify and understand other people’s emotions. A recent study published in Science (Kidd & Castano, 2013) suggests that reading literary fiction can improve empathic perspective taking abilities. In the present investigation, I present a history of scientific efforts to explain and measure empathy as well as how empathic perspective-taking is diminished in individuals with personality disorders. I review efforts at an extension of existing research that resulted in a failed replication with important repercussions. I outline potential directions for researchers looking to investigate the relationship of empathic perspective taking, literary fiction, and personality organization.

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