Using the empathizing-systemizing theory as our framework, we investigated how people with high self-reported empathizing (having good social skills and being interested in people) and systemizing (being interested in physical things and processes) differ in the social information processing of emotionally negative photographs of people during “spontaneous watching” and emotional and cognitive empathy tasks. Empathizers evaluated the pictures as more emotionally touching and the reactions in the photographs more understandable than the systemizers. Compared to the empathizers, systemizers had stronger activations in the posterior cingulate cortex, an area related to cognitive empathy, as well as in the left superior temporal gyrus and middle frontal gyrus when watching emotional photographs spontaneously. During guided emotional and cognitive empathy tasks, these differences disappeared. However, during the emotional empathy task, higher systemizing was associated with weaker activation of the right inferior frontal gyrus /insula. Furthermore, during emotional and cognitive empathy tasks, empathizing was related to increased activations of the amygdala which were in turn related to higher behavioral ratings of emotional and cognitive empathy. The results suggest that empathizers and systemizers engage in social information processing differently: systemizers in more cognitive terms and empathizers with stronger automatic emotional reactions.
- 515 Psykologi