Australian Journal of Psychology, Vol. 57, No. 1, May 2005, pp. 49 – 60.
Personality factors in professional ethical behaviour: Studies of empathy and narcissism
DON MUNRO, MILES BORE & DAVID POWIS
School of Behavioural Sciences, Psychology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
An investigation into personality factors possibly underlying ethical behaviour in medical students and doctors indicated the importance of two primary dimensions, empathy and narcissism. Experimental questionnaires based on these dimensions were constructed and administered to large samples of medical school applicants. Factor analyses suggested the presence of four factors, labelled Narcissism, Aloofness, Empathy and Confidence. These were combined in a 100-item instrument intended for screening purposes. This paper reports on two construct validation studies for the instrument, with New Zealand medical students (n = 237) and Scottish medical school applicants (n = 510), using overlapping batteries of personality scales. The validity coefficients for the samples indicate similar constructs for narcissism (related to disagreeableness, aggressiveness, aloofness from others, sensitivity to rewards, and anxiety), and empathy (related positively to emotional intelligence, extraversion, open-mindedness, compliance with others and negatively to aloofness). Factor analysis supports the hypothesis of separate dimensions for narcissistic aggression and empathic relationships.