Journal of Psychological Type® (JPT) > Vol 82, 2022

An exploration of empathy and personality in preservice counselors.

Kutsko, K., Duviver, R., Oswald, G., & Johnson, A. (2021). An exploration of empathy and personality in preservice counselors. Journal of Counselor Practice, 12(2), 1-27.

This study used the MBTI® and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index® (IRI®) assessments to examine the connection between personality type and empathy (cognitive, emotional, behavioral) in counseling students. Results aligned with previous research, including a study by the CAPT research team (Blandin et al., 2017), demonstrating significant statistical differences between type preferences on empathy scales. The IRI instrument assesses empathy in four scales: Empathic Concern, Personal Distress, Perspective Taking, and Fantasy.

Results revealed that a preference for Extraversion had significantly higher scores on Empathic Concern, Introversion had significantly higher scores on Personal Distress, with no difference between them on Perspective Taking or Fantasy. In preferences for Sensing and Intuition, Intuition scored significantly higher on Empathic Concern, Perspective Taking, and Fantasy and there was no difference on the Fantasy scale. A preference for Feeling scored significantly higher than a preference for Thinking across all four empathy scales, and a preference for Perceiving scored significantly higher on Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking but not on the other two scales. Most of these results confirm previous research and type theory; it is no surprise that preferences for Extraversion, Feeling, Intuition, and Perceiving are attracted to counseling due to dispositions towards empathy, though these preferences do not predict skill or satisfaction.

The authors suggest that, for counselors, knowing personality type can not only aid and improve understanding how type preferences may inform their own natural predispositions for empathy, but can also contribute towards understanding the empathic capacity and needs of their clients. A limit of the study was a rich description of Behavioral Empathy that did not find its way into the study or results. Future research might investigate possible correlations between Behavioral Empathy—nonverbal application of empathy—and a preference for Sensing.



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The Journal of Psychological Type® - Research Digest (JPT-RD) is made available through the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Inc., CAPT, worldwide publisher. The editorial team includes Kesstan Blandin, PhD, Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD, Logan Abbitt, MLIS, and Purnima Sims.

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CAPT is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to educate the public about psychological type—including its ethical, meaningful, and practical applications—and to conduct research on psychological type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument. The JPT-RD, published annually, is one of a suite of CAPT publications that highlight research and ideas in the field of psychological type, the MBTI instrument, and Jungian thought. ©2023 Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Inc., publisher. Contact the JPT-RD Editorial Team at