Empathy and parenthood: The moderating role of maternal trait empathy on parental burnout

Tamar Kadosh-Laor, Liat Israeli-Ran, Ido Shalev, Florina Uzefovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to empathize with others enables us to effectively interact with each other and may have specifically evolved to support parental roles and caregiving. The relationship between parenting and trait empathy is little understood as previous research focused on empathy exclusively in the context of parenting, for example parental sensitivity. Here we aimed to understand how trait empathy may moderate the association between child's negative emotionality and parental burnout. Two cohorts were examined (1) parents of infants (10–18 months old; N = 203) and (2) parents of children (3–10 years old, N = 201). Parents filled out a battery of online questionnaires assessing maternal empathy, parental burnout and child temperament. We found that the relationship between higher levels of negative emotionality and parental burnout is moderated by specific aspects of maternal emotional empathy. Our findings suggest that maternal emotional empathy acts as a buffer against parental burnout when faced with a child's characteristics that incur higher parental demands.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)605-620
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • emotional
  • empathy
  • negative emotionality
  • parental burnout
  • parenting

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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