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Title:The Effect of Self Reflection on Preschool Children's Empathic Understanding and Prosocial Behavior
Author(s):Hill, Timothy Clarke
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Early Childhood
Abstract:The present study investigated the effect of providing preschool children with opportunities to reflect upon their own feelings as a means to enhance their empathic understanding and prosocial behavior. Seventy-one children from four preschool classrooms were pretested on measures of empathic understanding, verbal ability, prosocial responsiveness and the "normativeness" of their wishes. Performance on these measures served as criterion for selection of forty-two children who served as subjects. The mean age of subjects was 4 years and 6 months. The preschool classrooms were all located in middle class areas of Champaign-Urbana.
Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three different experimental conditions. Children assigned to the treatment group were involved in sessions in which they were asked questions designed to promote self reflection. There were two control conditions. In one group children were asked to think about the feelings of others. Children in the second control group were given the same stimulus materials as those in the other conditions and asked one question concerned with their opinion of these materials.
A repeated measures design was employed in which pretest and posttest measures of empathic understanding and prosocial responsiveness were obtained. Measures of five different dimensions of empathic understanding were based on children's responses to an interview. Measures of prosocial responsiveness were based on observations made during children's free play in the preschool classroom.
There was a significant overall increase in empathic understanding for all groups following treatment. The treatment group gained significantly more on this measure than either of the other two groups. All groups gained in the total measure of prosocial responsiveness. There was no significant treatment effect for any of the measures of prosocial responsiveness. Correlations between prosocial responsiveness and empathic understanding revealed some significant correlations.
In total, results are interpreted as evidence for the effectiveness of providing young children with opportunities to reflect about their own feelings as a means to enhance their understanding of others. Recommendations are made regarding future studies that might provide further understanding of the relationship between empathy and prosocial behavior.
Issue Date:1983
Description:180 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8309956
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1983

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