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25-06-2020 | Review | Uitgave 9/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2020

Empathy and Positive Aspects of Adolescent Peer Relationships: a Scoping Review

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2020
Erika Portt, Staci Person, Brandi Person, Edward Rawana, Keith Brownlee
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A lack of empathy is related to some negative aspects of adolescent interpersonal functioning in the literature, such as bullying. However, the relationship between empathy and positive aspects of adolescent interpersonal functioning is less clear. Thus, this study sought to examine the association between empathy and positive components of peer relationships among adolescents. A scoping review was conducted to identify relevant literature and to provide a narrative overview of the identified studies. Three databases were searched (PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Sociological Abstracts). Subsequently, three reviewers independently analyzed articles to determine inclusion. Twenty-eight studies met inclusionary criteria. The aspects of peer relationships that were studied most frequently included peer attachment, social status (i.e., peer acceptance, likeability, social preference, and popularity), and friendship closeness or quality. The associations between empathy and some aspects of peer relationships among adolescents varied based on type of empathy and gender. Although inconsistencies were observed, the included studies often showed either a positive relationship or no relationship between empathy and positive peer relationship variables. In several studies, empathy was positively related to peer attachment and friendship quality or closeness, but not significantly related to popularity. Additional research is needed to further clarify these relationships. The results are integrated within a positive psychology framework examining the role of empathy as a potential strength in interpersonal functioning.

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