When the Head Protects the Heart: Empathic Accuracy in Dating Relationships

Jeffry A. Simpson, William Ickes, Tami Blackstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


This study investigated circumstances in which romantic partners may be motivated to in accurately infer each other's thoughts and feelings. Dating couples rated and discussed pictures of opposite-sex people with whom they might later interact in a dating context. Couples evaluated either highly attractive persons or less attractive persons. As predicted, dating partners who were close, who were insecure about their relationship, and who evaluated highly attractive opposite-sex persons displayed the least empathic accuracy when they tried to infer each other's actual thoughts and feelings from the videotape of the rating and discussion task. The effects of these variables were additive, and they were mediated by the degree of perceived threat to the relationship. Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-641
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


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