Empathy and Observed Anger and Aggression in Five-Year-Olds

Janet Strayer, William Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


In Roberts and Strayer (1996), we reported that emotional expressiveness and anger were important predictors of empathy for school-age children, and that empathy strongly predicted prosocial behaviors aggregated across methods and sources. In this paper, we report how empathy was associated with direct observations of anger and aggression in peer play groups. Twenty-four initially unacquainted five-year-old children (50% girls) were randomly assigned to six same-sex groups; each group met for three one-hour play sessions. Physical and verbal aggression, object struggles and anger were coded from videotapes, as were prosocial and social behaviors. As expected, empathy (aggregated across methods and sources) was negatively associated with aggression and anger, and positively associated with prosocial behaviors. Although children who were more angry were also more aggressive, anger and aggression did not covary across play sessions as a simple causal model requires. These results suggest further directions for research in emotions and aggression.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-20

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Empathy and Observed Anger and Aggression in Five-Year-Olds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this