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01-10-2012 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 10/2012

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 10/2012

What are the Unique and Interacting Contributions of School and Family Factors to Early Adolescents’ Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking?

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 10/2012
Auteurs:
Milena D. Batanova, Alexandra Loukas

Abstract

Empathy in children has received considerable attention in the literature, but limited research has investigated the contributions of various socializing factors on both affective (e.g., empathic concern) and cognitive (e.g., perspective taking) components of empathy in early adolescents. Guided by socialization theories, this study examined the unique and interacting contributions of school connectedness and parent–child conflict to subsequent levels of both components of empathy across a 1-year period of time. Participants were 487 10- to 14- year old middle school students (54 % female; 76 % European-American) involved in two waves of a study with 1 year between each wave. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that, among girls, reports of parent–child conflict contributed to a decrease in empathic concern one year later, whereas school connectedness was a protective factor that offset the negative impact of parent–child conflict on girls’ subsequent perspective taking. Alternatively, only boys’ reports of school connectedness contributed to subsequent increases in both empathic concern and perspective taking 1 year later. Findings indicate that school connectedness and conflict with parents play different socializing roles for girls’ and boys’ empathic concern and perspective taking. The current study calls for further research and youth programs to consider the important contributions that socializing agents can make on both components of empathy for early adolescent girls and boys.

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