Cognitive empathy, defined as the ability to recognize what another person is thinking or feeling, and to predict their behaviour based on their mental states, is vital for interpersonal relationships, which in turn is a key contributor of wellbeing. Cognitive empathy is distinct from affective empathy, the latter of which is defined as the drive to respond to another’s mental states with an appropriate emotion.1,2 Difficulties in cognitive empathy have been found in different psychiatric conditions, particularly autism.3 The dissociation between cognitive and affective empathy (the latter is often intact in autism, for example, whilst it is invariably impaired in antisocial personality disorder) suggests these have independent biological mechanisms.
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