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Running Head Storytelling and Empathy The Effects of Storytelling on Expressions of Empathy in Preschool Aged Children Sarah E Shafer Earlham College Abstract The present study examined affective and cognitive empathy in preschool children Seventeen children ages three to five years were given The Young Childrens Empathy Measure to determine their understanding of empathy Participants were then read a childrens story and given the empathy measure again to see if they expressed more empathy after hearing about a sympathetic protagonist A second baseline score was obtained one week after the story was administered On measures of cognitive anger mean scores increased significantly after the story was heard Other scores increased after hearing the story indicating a trend that storytelling is an effective method of increasing expressions of empathy Affective empathy is defined as being able to know about and understand another persons feelings without having experienced the same situation Feshbach 1975 Children as young as three years of age have been shown to exhibit appropriate empathy toward others and to demonstrate correct understanding of others emotions Gove Keating 1979 Poresky 1990 Although young children can correctly express empathy toward others empathic abilities do appear to increase as one grows older and is able to view the world in a less egocentric manner Piaget 1966 Numerous studies have illustrated a strong positive correlation between age and ability to empathize Children between five and six years of age show many more appropriate responses on empathy measures than children closer to three years of age Gove Keating 1979 Poresky 1990 This trend is not exclusive to the earliest years of development Bryant 1982 administered a pencil and paper empathy scale to first fourth and seventh graders and found that seventh graders were more empathetic than the other two groups Olweus and Endresen 1998 conducted a two-year longitudinal study of 13 to
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