Empathy and aggression : a study of the interplay between empathy and aggression in preschoolers.
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This study investigated correlations between empathy and relational and physical aggression in preschoolers. With the assistance of the Elisabeth W. Amen Nursery School and its two main classroom teachers, the researcher observed 30 preschool students. The 14 girls and 16 boys were between the ages of three-and-a-half and five, were predominantly White, and were from middle to upper class families. Empathy was measured by other-report by way of a teacher questionnaire. Aggression was measured by direct observation and was based on the definitions in a previous study by Crick, Casas, and Mosher (1997). The hypothesis was partially confirmed in that the more empathic participants were less physically aggressive in comparison to the less empathic participants. The less empathic participants were significantly associated with high rates of physical aggression. These findings underline the importance of the development of empathy and prosocial behavior and their ability to inhibit aggressive acts towards others in preschool children.
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