Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Role of Empathy during COVID-19’s First Wave
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout the world, and concerns about psy- chological, social, and economic consequences are growing rapidly. Individuals’ empathy-based reactions towards others may be an important resilience factor in the face of COVID-19. Self-report data from 15,375 participants across 23 countries were collected from May to August 2020 during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, this study examined different facets of empathy—Perspective-Taking, Empathic Concern, and Personal Distress, and their association with cross-cultural ratings on Individualism, Power Distance, The Human Development Index, Social Support Ranking, and the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index, as well as the currently confirmed number of cases of COVID-19 at the time of data collection. The highest ratings on Perspective-Taking were obtained for USA, Brazil, Italy, Croatia, and Armenia (from maximum to minimum); on Empa- thetic Concern, for the USA, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, and Indonesia; and on Personal Distress, from Brazil, Turkey, Italy, Armenia, Indonesia. Results also present associations between demographic factors and empathy across countries. Limitations and future directions are presented.