Empathic responding is divided into the following two types: parallel and reactive.
In the framework of a dual-process theory, our hypothesis is that parallel responding
depends on system 1, which operates fast, automatically, and unconsciously, and that
reactive responding is controlled by system 2, which operates slowly but serves as the
basis of rationality. We investigated the hypothesis by means of manipulating the load
of working memory which was an essential element for system 2. Participants read
a story of an unhappy person with a memory task, in which they were required to
memorize underlined words and recall them after reading it, and then answered the
parallel and reactive responding scales. As a result, high working memory load, in
which condition participants were required to memorize more words, led to lower re-
active responding than low working memory load, but the difference was not shown in
parallel responding. This result affirms our hypothesis.