Empathy, Emotional Expressiveness, and Prosocial Behavior

William Roberts, Janet Strayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


Relations between emotional expressiveness, empathy, and prosocial behaviors are important for theoretical and practical reasons. In this study, all 3 areas were assessed across methods and sources. Emotional expressiveness and empathy were evaluated in 73 children in 3 age groups (5-, 9-, and 13-year-olds) by measuring facial and verbal responses to emotionally evocative videotapes and by ratings from best friends, parents, and teachers. Measures of emotional insight and role taking were also obtained. Prosocial behaviors were assessed by 3 laboratory tasks and by ratings from best friends, parents, and teachers. Confirming expectations, latent variable path analyses (Lohmöller, 1984) indicated that emotional expressiveness, emotional insight, and role taking were strong predictors of latent empathy (multiple R2 = .60). Boys' empathy, in turn, was a strong predictor of prosocial behavior, R2 = .55. In contrast, girls' empathy was related to prosocial behaviors with friends, R2 = .13, but not to cooperation with peers. Thus present findings provide important support and clarification for certain theoretical expectations, and also raise issues that need clarification.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-470
Number of pages22
JournalChild Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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