The processes involved in the experience of empathy overlap conceptually and empirically with processes contributing to social and emotional adjustment. To the extent that empathy and socioemotional adjustment share common elements, units for coding Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) stories that are designated to assess empathy will also pertain to adjustment. The importance of the empathy construct derives from its linkage with prosocial behavior and positive adjustment (Bryant, 1987; Cohen & Strayer, 1996; Eisenberg, Zhou, & Koller, 2001; Roberts & Strayer, 1996). Although some evidence
supports stable individual differences in prosocial responding from early childhood to adulthood (Eisenberg et al., 1999), there are many influences on the translation of empathy into prosocial behaviors.