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The development of empathy in childhood

By Amy Woolston

Abstract

Previous research has identified that children and adolescents, typically males, with behaviour problems have poorer empathic skills than their nonbehaviour disordered peers (e.g. De Wied, Goudena & 'Matthys, 2005). Since increased empathy is positively associated with prosocial behaviour and negatively associated with aggression (Strayer & Roberts, 2004) investigating what factors might affect child empathy might be of value in developing proactive and reactive interventions. Chapter 1 aims to review the current knowledge-base and to highlight the variety of parental factors which may affect empathy development in the typically developing child. Limitations of the research and suggestions for future research are discussed. Understanding how empathy develops in the typically developing child is important in order to understand where and why empathy development goes wrong. ! Chapter 2 presents an empirical study investigating empathy in boys with behavioural problems. This study aimed to investigate whether empathy scores were dependant on the relationship between the observer and the observed person. The findings offer some support for the prediction that empathy scores are enhanced when participants empathise with someone they have ~ positive relationship with. The thesis concludes with a reflective paper (Chapter 3) which considers the controversy between reductionism and holism in research and practice

Topics: BF
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:1163

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