Volume 30, Issue 6 (9-2023)                   RJMS 2023, 30(6): 139-149 | Back to browse issues page

Research code: 0000000000
Ethics code: IR.SEMUMS.REC.1401.024
Clinical trials code: 00000000000

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Abbasi M, Tabatabaee S M. The Mediating Role of Working Memory in the Relationship between Problem Solving and Empathy. RJMS 2023; 30 (6) :139-149
URL: http://rjms.iums.ac.ir/article-1-7880-en.html
Assistant Professor of Cognitive Sciences , Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran , s.mosatabatabaee@semnan.ac.ir
Abstract:   (473 Views)
Background & Aims: The concept of empathy has a special place in social psychology, neuroscience, clinical psychology and health professions (1). Contemporary theorists consider empathy as a multidimensional concept that consists of emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects (3). Having creativity and the ability to solve problems seems to be able to facilitate the process of empathy (9). The ability to solve problems in the real world is a vital part of people's lives. A problem is a situation that people intend to reach from the initial situation to the target situation without having a specific solution (12). It seems that understanding the situation of others and sharing feelings with them can also be a form of a problem, and problem solving capacity can be effective in the process of empathy (16). Studies have shown that problem-solving skills are related to cognitive empathy (17). On the other hand, research results show that people who have a higher working memory updating ability spend a much shorter time solving problems than people who have a weaker working memory updating ability. One way in which working memory aids problem solving is by helping the problem solver resist distraction and limit his search in the problem space (21). On the contrary, there is evidence that shows that excessive concentration and having a higher working memory capacity can harm problem-solving performance (22). The relationship between empathy and working memory is one of the discussed topics in cognitive and social sciences. Working memory is hypothesized to predict empathy (23-24). However, the number of studies that depict the relationship between working memory and empathy is small, and despite the fact that working memory seems to be an important function in information processing, it plays a major role in many other cognitive functions, including problem solving, so It is possible that it has a mediating role in the relationship between problem solving and empathy, so far no research has been done on this issue, and the various effects that working memory can have on problem solving also adds to the complexity of this issue. Therefore, in the present study, the aim was to investigate the mediating role of working memory in the relationship between problem solving and empathy.
Methods: In terms of the method of data collection, this research is considered a descriptive (non-experimental) research, and in terms of methodology, it is included in the category of correlational research, and it is of the structural equations type. The statistical population of the current study was all students studying in Zahedan city in the academic year of 1400-1401. Among all students, a sample of 500 people was selected by cluster sampling method. In order to collect data, problem solving questionnaire (PSI), empathy questionnaire and working memory questionnaire (WMQ) were used.
Results: The results showed that there is a negative relationship between problem solving and empathy variable, but the direction of the relationship between problem solving and working memory variable is positive. Examining the correlation coefficients shows that the intensity of correlation between problem solving and empathy is equal to -0.143 and the intensity of correlation between problem solving and working memory is equal to 0.465 (p<0.01). The fit indices were in the desired range. The direct path of problem solving to working memory (0.411) is positive and significant. And the direct path of working memory to cognitive emotional empathy (0.011) is not significant. The direct path of problem solving to cognitive emotional empathy (-0.372) is negative and significant. Also, the mediating effect of problem solving on cognitive emotional empathy through working memory is not significant. In the mediation model, the squared multiple correlation for working memory variable is (0.169) and for cognitive emotional empathy (0.135).
Conclusion: The findings showed that problem solving is related to working memory. This finding is consistent with previous research (20-21). In connection with the explanation of this finding, it can be said that in solving the problem, expert solvers tend to use weak methods in combined forms (31). here it is necessary to use working memory. Working memory includes a central executive that controls and coordinates the performance of two subsystems (phonological cycle and visuospatial storage). The central executive drives the entire system and allocates resources to subsystems. It is also related to cognitive tasks such as mental calculation and problem solving. Visual spatial design or the inner eye stores and processes information in a visual or spatial form. Based on this, problem solving is related to working memory. However, this hypothesis that problem solving has an indirect relationship with empathy through working memory was not confirmed in the present study. In explaining this finding, it can be said that, as previous studies have shown, high working memory can have different effects on problem solving. Working memory does not always positively predict the adaptive dimensions of problem solving, and sometimes working memory can be considered an obstacle to achieve insight. Due to the complexity of cognitive processes, increasing the power of problem solving sometimes leads to ignoring emotions, and leads to a decrease Therefore, problem solving and empathy cannot be related through working memory.
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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Clinical Psychiatry

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