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Toddlers' theory of mind skills, parental ratings of their child's empathy, mental state language, and executive functioning in relation to observable empathic behaviours

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Toddlers' theory of mind skills, parental ratings of their child's empathy, mental state language, and executive functioning in relation to observable empathic behaviours

Chiarella, Sabrina Sarah (2010) Toddlers' theory of mind skills, parental ratings of their child's empathy, mental state language, and executive functioning in relation to observable empathic behaviours. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Empathy has commonly been associated with a person's ability to engage in prosocial actions. Yet, the understanding of how one's ability to recognize others' emotional and non-emotional mental states is related to the experience of empathy in very young children remains unexplored. The present study examined how both emotional (understanding another's emotion), and non-emotional (understanding another's visual perception) theory of mind related to expressions of empathy when an actor simulated distress in sixty-six, 29-38 month-old toddlers. Children were tested for their ability to identify the relation between people's emotions and desires (emotional ToM) and for visual perspective-taking abilities (non-emotional ToM). Children's empathic behaviours were recorded during a period in which an actor experienced distress. Parents also completed questionnaires about their children's effortful control/executive functioning and empathic behaviours. Results revealed that children with better emotional ToM skills also had a significant greater likelihood of displaying sympathy. No significant results emerged between the non-emotional ToM tasks and empathy. Children who were rated as having better effortful control/executive functioning displayed more concern and hypothesis testing, and tended to show more sympathy. Moreover, children described as more empathic displayed more sympathy and concern and tended to display more hypothesis testing. Finally, relationships between mother-reported empathy and observed empathic behaviours were stronger for girls than boys. The current findings provided the first direct evidence that the understanding of others' emotional states and empathic development begin to interrelate early in life and provide evidence for a possible link between young children's executive functioning and empathic responses

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Chiarella, Sabrina Sarah
Pagination:vii, 96 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Psychology
Date:2010
Thesis Supervisor(s):Poulin-Doubois, Diane
ID Code:979450
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:09 Dec 2014 17:59
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:49
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