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When Empathy Matters: The Role of Sex and Empathy in Close Friendships

Professor Joseph Ciarrochi of the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education examined the influence of empathy on both same and opposite-sex teenage friendships. Making friends with the opposite sex isn’t always an easy feat for teenagers, but for boys, having a little empathy could go a long way. The study revealed that girls are more likely to become close friends with boys who show greater empathy – while empathy doesn’t seem to matter to boys when selecting their female friends. The team assessed both cognitive and affective empathy of 1,970 Year 10 students in Queensland and New South Wales, tracking the participant’s capacity to comprehend and experience the emotions of others.

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