Children's Perception of Parental Empathy as a Precursor of Children's Empathy in Middle and Late Childhood

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Connecticut]On: 10 October 2014, At: 21:16Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>The Journal of Psychology:Interdisciplinary and AppliedPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:</p><p>Children's Perception ofParental Empathy as aPrecursor of Children'sEmpathy in Middle and LateChildhoodMara Cristina Richaud de Minzi aa Interdisciplinary Center of Mathematical andExperimental Psychology Research, National Councilof Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET)Published online: 20 Sep 2013.</p><p>To cite this article: Mara Cristina Richaud de Minzi (2013) Children's Perception ofParental Empathy as a Precursor of Children's Empathy in Middle and Late Childhood,The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 147:6, 563-576, DOI:10.1080/00223980.2012.721811</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any</p><p></p></li><li><p>losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 2</p><p>1:16</p><p> 10 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p></p></li><li><p>The Journal of Psychology, 2013, 147(6), 563576Copyright C 2013 Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLC</p><p>Childrens Perception of ParentalEmpathy as a Precursor of Childrens</p><p>Empathy in Middle and Late Childhood</p><p>MARIA CRISTINA RICHAUD DE MINZIInterdisciplinary Center of Mathematical and Experimental Psychology</p><p>Research, National Council of Scientific and TechnicalResearch (CONICET)</p><p>ABSTRACT. This study examined: 1) the development of empathy in middle and latechildhood, according to gender; 2) childrens perception of parents empathy according togender; and 3) the links between childrens perception of parents empathy and childrensempathy. Spanish translation of the Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index and a Measure ofChildren Perception of Parental Empathy were administered to 387 middle class children,aged 812 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the first place, we have found, as previous studieson the subject, significant differences between boys and girls empathy, girls being moreempathic than boys. When comparing boys and girls in their perception of mother andfather empathy, they agree in their perception of their mothers empathy, but girls perceivemore empathy in their father than boys. There is clearly a connection with gender, whichis probably due to cultural factors. As for the relationship between parents and childrensempathy, although previous studies showed little correlation in this regard, in the presentstudy, when considering the perception children have of their parents empathy, interestingmeaningful connections are found.</p><p>Keywords: empathy, parental empathy, gender, culture</p><p>THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY IN MIDDLE AND LATE CHILDHOOD,and its origins, in part, in primary interpersonal relationships, especially withparents is the aim of this article. Regarding this subject we are interested inanalyzing whether childrens perception of Parental Empathy as a result of parentalmodeling can predict empathy in the child.</p><p>Empathy is the ability to participate in the feelings or ideas of others, to feelsad about their unhappiness and good about their joy. In order to develop empathy,a child must be able to feel attachment to another person and must care if thatperson is hurting. The development of empathy and of the corresponding guilt</p><p>Address correspondence to Mara Cristina Richaud de Minzi, Tte. Gral. Peron 2158 (1040)Buenos Aires, Republica Argentina; (e-mail).</p><p>563</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 2</p><p>1:16</p><p> 10 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>564 The Journal of Psychology</p><p>and shame when one harms or fails to help another person, guarantees pro-socialbehavior and altruism, even and preferably in the absence of external rewards andpunishments.</p><p>Empathy includes cognitive processes and emotional experiences, and impliesa mainly cognitive response showing understanding of how another person feelsas well as an emotional communion (Gallo, 1989). Haynes and Avery (1979)described empathy as the ability to recognize and understand another personsperceptions and feelings and to carefully express that understanding in an acceptingresponse (p. 527). The response may be either verbal or nonverbal, or pro-socialbehavior such as sharing or helping.</p><p>On the one hand, empathy can be defined cognitively in relation to perspectivetaking or understanding others. For example, Hogan (1969) described empathyas the intellectual or imaginative apprehension of anothers condition or state ofmind without actually experiencing that persons feelings (p. 308). On the otherhand, empathy has also been defined as emotional arousal or sympathy in responseto the feelings or experiences of others (Caruso &amp; Meyer, 1998). For example,Mehrabian and Epstein (1972) defined empathy as the heightened responsivenessto anothers emotional experience (p. 526). Last, there is an integrative approachwhich employs both cognitive and emotional modes to the study of empathy.More recently, empathy has been conceived of as a multi-dimensional construct(Davis, 1983; Thornton &amp; Thornton, 1995). Davis (1983) included cognitive andemotional components in his view of empathy, and he believes that it can bestbe considered as a set of constructs related in that they all concern responsivity toothers but are also clearly discriminable from each other (p.113).</p><p>The development of empathy leading to guilt and shame when ones actionsharm others is a crucial aspect of emotional development. Early parent-child inter-actions are an important influence on childrens emotional development. Childreninitially learn to express and interpret emotions through interactions with primarycaregivers. In infancy, caregivers influence emotional development through theextent to which they provide emotionally arousing stimuli at appropriate times,reinforce and encourage emotional displays, and respond to subtle variations inthe childs expressions (Bronson, 2000; Eisenberg, Cumberland, &amp; Spinrad, 1998;Nagin &amp; Tremblay, 2001).</p><p>Some studies have found a positive relationship between the mothers em-pathic caring and childrens altruism (Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, &amp; King, 1979).Also, studies on preschool children have found that non-authoritarian and non-punishing mothers have children with higher levels of affective and cognitiveempathy, and pro-social behavior. Eisenberg, Lennon, and Roth (1983) examined,using a longitudinal methodology, the relation between prosocial moral judgmentof children since 4 to 6 years old and both prohibition-oriented moral judgmentand maternal childrearing practices. They found level of prosocial reasoning wasrelated to nonauthoritarian, nonpunitive, empathic, and supportive maternal prac-tices. Also it has been noticed that parental modeling of empathic relationships</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 2</p><p>1:16</p><p> 10 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Richaud de Minzi 565</p><p>towards their children and others in their presence, is strongly linked to the de-velopment of pro-social attitudes and behavior in children. Zahn-Waxler et al.examined maternal rearing behavior in relation to 1/2-2/2 childrens reparationfor transgressions and altruism as bystanders to distress in others. Distress wassimulated by mothers and investigators. Mothers empathic caregiving was ratingduring home visits and was positively associated with childrens reparation andaltruism.</p><p>Nevertheless, surprisingly little empirical support exists for a link betweenparent and child empathy.</p><p>Strayer and Roberts (1989) find that although childrens emotional empathywas associated with parental perceptions of the child as empathic, it was notrelated to parents own empathy. Although mothers reported significantly higherlevels of empathy than did fathers, neither mothers nor fathers empathy wasrelated to the empathy of daughters or the sons, either as assessed by Bryantsmeasure or by the parents themselves. Some years later, the same authors saidthat in contrast with earlier less comprehensive studies, they had found significantpaths between parents and childrens empathy mediated by childrens anger.These countervailing pathways largely neutralized each other, resulting in thelow correlation usually seen when parents and childrens empathy are examinedin isolation. Thus, our findings are an important confirmation and extension of thetheoretically expected link between parents and childrens empathy (Strayer &amp;Roberts, 2004, p. 229). However, they still had to make use of other variables,especially emotional expression mediators.</p><p>The studies of Strayer and Roberts (2004) on the influence of parents empathyover that of their children have assessed empathy as each one perceives it in himor herself. However, on the basis of social learning and social cognitive theories(Bandura, 1986), specific socialization mechanisms (e.g., observational learning,rewards) have been linked with the acquisition of new behaviors. Accordingto Bandura (1986), children who are exposed to models of specific behaviorwill be more likely to emulate those acts (especially if the model is admiredor closely identified with). In a similar vein, providing children with hands-onexperiences of empathetic acts may facilitate future empathetic behaviors becausesuch experiences provide rehearsal opportunities. Following these notions, onewould expect that parents who model and encourage empathetic behaviors mightpromote empathetic behaviors in their children.</p><p>Moreover, Schaefer consider that a childs perception of his parents be-haviors may be more related to his adjustment than is the actual behavior of hisparents (1965, p. 413).</p><p>According to our work on the influence of parents relationships and attach-ment over children coping, social skills, self-control, and emotions (Richaud deMinzi, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010) based on Schaefers model, we believe that ratherthan parents-self perceived empathy, it is actually the empathy children perceivein their parents that could really influence the development of their own empathy.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 2</p><p>1:16</p><p> 10 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>566 The Journal of Psychology</p><p>Repeated evidence was been found about the difference in empathy betweenmales and females, being the latter more empathetic (Garaigordobil &amp; Garca,2006; Litvack-Miller, McDougall, &amp; Romney, 1997; Mestre, Frias, &amp; Samper,2004). In the particular case of Argentina, it belongs to the western Christianculture, although it is predominantly Catholic and Latin of Italian and Spanishorigin. Parents expectations for girls and boys differ, and girls are expected to bemore nurturing and concerned with social evaluations of others, while boys areexpected to be more autonomous. These different expectations probably influencethe development of empathy in boys and girls.</p><p>In the present study, we hypothesize that: 1) there are differences in thedevelopment of empathy between boys and girls, being girls more empatheticthan boys; 2) there are differences in boys and girls perception of their parentsempathy, both girls and boys will perceive more empathy in their mother than intheir father, and only girls will perceive empathic qualities in their fathers; and 3)there is a difference in the influence of mothers and fathers empathy over thatof boys and girls. Boys empathy will be mainly influenced by cognitive empathyperceived in their father and girls will be influenced by both kinds of empathyperceived in both parents.</p><p>Methods</p><p>Participants and ProceduresWe recruited the sample studied from three public schools in the city of</p><p>Buenos Aires, where all the courses corresponding to 4, 5, 6, and 7 grade ofprimary school, participated in the study. The schools were not randomly selectedbut assigned by Educational Authorities of Buenos Aires Town Council. Thesample was composed by 387 Argentine children (190 boys and 197 girls), of 9(n = 61), 10 (n = 108), 11 (n = 114), and 12 years (n = 104) (M = 10.96 years,SD = 1.26 years), middle social class. All of them lived with both mother andfather. 25% of children were only child, 44% had one brother or sister, 21% hadtwo brothers and/or sisters, and the rest had more than two brothers and/or sisters.</p><p>We administered the instruments to children at each childs respective school,in groups of 20 children per session. Three psychologists administered the instru-ments to each group.</p><p>Ethical ProceduresWe obtained consent for this project at multiple levels. First, the researchers</p><p>asked to discuss the project with the heads of schools at potential research sites.We provided them with a copy of the research proposal and explained the charac-teristics of the research. Once heads of schools gave permission, we sent a letter tothe household of each child explaining the aims of the project and procedures foradministering measures to children. We expressly told them that participation wasvoluntary and anonymous. We obtained a written permission from each father andmother before data collection began. Last, we informed children of the purpose</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 2</p><p>1:16</p><p> 10 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Richaud de Minzi 567</p><p>of the study. Then we instructed them in data collection procedures and remindedthat they could refuse to answer questions if they chose to.</p><p>Measurement toolsThe Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) (Davis, 1980)</p><p>We have used the Spanish version (Mestre, Frias, &amp; Samper, 2004)...</p></li></ul>


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