The missing construct: Impathy – Conceptualization, operationalization, and clinical considerations

Neubrand, Stefanie. The missing construct: Impathy – Conceptualization, operationalization, and clinical considerations. 2021, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/84647/

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Within the clinical community there is a growing interest in the view of empathy with oneself as a human capacity for recovering and sustaining mental health. To date, however, introversive empathy has not been explicitly investigated in traditional psychological research. In the void between clinical practice and empirical research, this thesis aims to provide a starting point for a better understanding of introversive empathy, which I call impathy, in psychological research and thereby enabling both basic research and clinical application and investigation. To this end, across three manuscripts, the new psychological construct of impathy was conceptualized, operationalized, and clinical considerations for contemporary psychotherapy are provided.
The first manuscript reflects a multi-phase construction process to operationally define and assess impathy employing theory and data-driven approaches. The Impathy Inventory was finalized with 20 items using data from a non-clinical sample. Findings suggest that the Impathy Inventory is a psychometrically sound self-report instrument to measure impathy as a multifactorial construct with four interrelated dimensions: Internal Attention, Meta-Position, Accepting Attitude and Understanding. Preliminary results support the construct validity of the Impathy Inventory and show significant correlations with mental health indicators.
Taking a closer look at the operational definition of impathy, manuscript 2 investigates each factorial dimension with regard to its specific psychological properties. By reviewing the clinical literature on introversive empathy, this work reveals assumptions about implicit internalizing processes within an empathic therapeutic setting that facilitate clients’ development of impathy. In order to develop construct clarity, issues related to the conceptual and operational distinctiveness of impathy are discussed. The present findings suggest that the perspective on the clinical implications of impathy should be broadened from implicit to explicit research and practice.
The third manuscript addresses the clinical applicability of the understanding of impathy developed in manuscripts 1 and 2. By integrating impathy into a therapeutic rationale for the treatment of dissociative identity disorder, this work suggests that impathy may be a learnable skill and that the proposed psychological concept may be utilized as a clinical approach within existing treatment models to enhance this skill.
In summary, the findings of this cumulative dissertation suggest that impathy is a singular concept worthy of further investigation in psychological research. Impathy interventions may hold potential for innovation in psychological practice. Implications and directions for future psychological research are discussed.
Advisors:Gaab, Jens and Mata, Rui
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Health & Intervention > Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie (Gaab)
UniBasel Contributors:Gaab, Jens and Mata, Rui
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14307
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:120
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss143077
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:02 Oct 2021 04:30
Deposited On:01 Oct 2021 09:38

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