Master's Theses

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access

Date of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S)


Advanced Education Programs


Carol L. Patrick


This study examined the relations among parenting strategies and empathy and distressful childhood experiences and empathy. Participants were 58 female and 52 male students from Fort Hays State University. Parenting strategies were found to have a relation to the development of empathy. The parenting strategies looked at in this study included warmth, induction, low rule orientation, power assertion, and love-withdrawal. However, the validity of the questionnaire used to measure these variables makes the results questionable. Participants who reported their childhood experiences as being more distressing had higher empathy scores as adults. This finding suggests that children should perhaps be allowed to experience potentially distressing events because it promotes the development of empathy. The number of distressing childhood events and experiencing distressful events such as abuse and neglect as children were not found to have a relation to empathy in the present study. The insignificant findings between abuse and neglect and empathy may have been due to an insufficient number of questions relating to these experiences and an insufficient number of participants experiencing them. Another finding in the present study showed that females were significantly more empathetic than males, t(108) = 7.036, p<.001. Females had a mean empathy score of 60.86 and males had a mean empathy score of 27.27. This finding may suggest that females and males may be socialized in different ways to show their emotions.


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Copyright 2002 Janell Williams

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