ERIC Number: ED291023
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Experimentally Induced Empathy and Its Role in Reducing Aggression.
Greene, Richard J.; And Others
This study attempted to induce empathy toward a hypothetical individual in an effort to reduce aggressive responses directed toward him. Forty fourth grade volunteer boys from two Michigan public schools were administered the Index of Empathy for Children and Adolescents to determine pre-existing empathic potential (EP). Subjects were matched for EP and assigned to either an experimental or control group. Experimental subjects were given sad information about the hypothetical boy and were told to imagine themselves in his place. Control subjects were given neutral information about the boy not designed to evoke empathy. The character was then described as behaving obnoxiously toward an imaginary victim on four occasions. Following each of the four scenarios, subjects were asked how the victim would respond. Subjects' responses were coded for aggressiveness. The results revealed that the mean aggressive score of the experimental group's responses was significantly lower than that of the control group for the first story administered. Experimental subjects with high EP were rated significantly lower on the aggressiveness of their responses to the first story than were other experimental subjects. Significantly fewer experimentals than controls said the victim would choose aggressive retaliatory responses on one or more of the four occasions. These findings support the hypothesis that empathy arousal can reduce the experience and expression of aggression. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (95th, New York, NY, August 28-September 1, 1987).