Developing the empathic attitude is one of the tasks of medical education as it aff ects the quality of therapeutic contact in the relationship between the doctor and the patient, conditioning the treatment process. According to Davis’s concept, empathy is defi ned as an aff ective-cognitive reaction in the context of the other person’s experience. Aim: Analysis of profi les of empathic sensitivity in students of medicine. Group: Male and female students of the fi ft h year of medicine who agreed to participate in an anonymous study (n = 153; M = 57, F = 96; mean age: 23 years). Tools: Th e Empathetic Sensitivity Scale (EES), which is the Polish tool for Davis’s Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) was used. Th e ESS includes three sub-scales: Empathic Care (EC), Personal Distress (PD) and Adopting Perspective (AP). Results: The raw results were converted into sten scores and for sten scores for all three dimensions of empathetic sensitivity no diff erences were found between male and female students. Th ree clusters (1: n = 33%, 2: n = 39%, 3: n = 28%), which diff er in terms of each distinguished indicator, were identifi ed. Conclusions: Th e first cluster characterizes empathetic people, both in the aff ective and cognitive spheres, and those dealing well with unpleasant emotions in situations diffi cult to others. Th e second cluster characterizes participants with the ability to recognize the needs of others and to take into account their perspectives; the third cluster includes participants with a tendency to focus on their own experiences emerging in response to other people’s suff ering but with the ability to understand a situation and show empathic concern for the other person. The most favourable profi le — for a future doctor as well as for his patients — is the fi rst cluster because the doctor, with his empathic sensitivity directed towards the other man, can deal with his own unpleasant emotions.
Empathy and psychopathy seem to be two distant extremes, which only differ, with nothing similar. Therefore, the question that seems to be surprising is whether such a theoretical perspective is justified. Empathy exerts significant influence on social relationships and is associated with moral development, whereas psychopathy seems to be an opposite phenomenon, as it is associated with the lack of deep interpersonal bonds and the violation of legal norms. As studies from various disciplines and scientific areas indicate, such concepts as behavioral effectiveness, morality or altruism might help explain the complex nature of the interrelationship between psychopathy and empathy. The authors tried to explore and describe the complexity of the two presented concepts in the light of the conducted research, and the resulting theoretical and empirical implications.