Addiction and empathy: A preliminary analysis

Valentina Ferrari, Enrico Smeraldi, Giampiero Bottero, Ernestina Politi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Addicted patients show impaired social functioning. Chronic drug consumption may lead to impairments in decoding empathic cues. The aim of the study is to explore empathy abilities in addicted patients and the hypothesis of a differential impairment between affective and cognitive empathy. 62 addicted patients and 40 healthy volunteers were evaluated using the empathy quotient (EQ) and its subscales cognitive empathy (factor 1), emotional empathy (factor 2), social skills (factor 3). Patients scored statistically significantly lower than controls in EQ total score, in particular in factor 2. No difference was found in factor 1 and in factor 3. Consistent with previous findings, our study suggests specific impairment in emotional empathy combined with preserved cognitive empathy. These findings show important clinical implication in the development of specific rehabilitative programmes for the empowerment of empathy abilities and interpersonal skills that constitute important components in the prevention of relapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-859
Number of pages5
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Addiction
  • Empathy
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology
  • Medicine(all)


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