Story Telling Research Paper Running Head Essay

Narrative Telling Essay, Research Paper

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Runing Head: Storytelling and Empathy

The Effects of Storytelling on Expressions of Empathy

in Preschool Aged Children

Sarah E. Shafer

Earlham College


The present survey examined affectional and cognitive empathy in preschool kids. Seventeen kids, ages three to five old ages, were given The Young Children & # 8217 ; s Empathy Measure to find their apprehension of empathy. Participants were so read a kids & # 8217 ; s narrative and given the empathy step once more, to see if they expressed more empathy after hearing about a sympathetic supporter. A 2nd baseline mark was obtained one hebdomad after the narrative was administered. On steps of cognitive choler, average tonss increased significantly after the narrative was heard. Other tonss increased after hearing the narrative, bespeaking a tendency that storytelling is an effectual method of increasing looks of empathy. Affective empathy is defined as being able to cognize approximately and understand another individual & # 8217 ; s feelings without holding experienced the same state of affairs ( Feshbach, 1975 ) . Children every bit immature as three old ages of age have been shown to exhibit appropriate empathy toward others and to show right apprehension of others & # 8217 ; emotions ( Gove & A ; Keating, 1979 ; Poresky, 1990 ) .

Although immature kids can right show empathy toward others, empathetic abilities do look to increase as one grows older and is able to see the universe in a less egoistic mode ( Piaget, 1966 ) . Numerous surveies have illustrated a strong positive correlativity between age and ability to sympathize. Children between five and six old ages of age show many more appropriate responses on empathy steps than kids closer to three old ages of age ( Gove & A ; Keating, 1979 ; Poresky, 1990 ) . This tendency is non sole to the earliest old ages of development. Bryant ( 1982 ) administered a pencil and paper empathy graduated table to foremost, 4th, and 7th graders and found that 7th graders were more empathic than the other two groups. Olweus and Endresen ( 1998 ) conducted a biennial longitudinal survey of 13 to 16 twelvemonth olds and found a steady addition in empathy as they aged.

Higher degrees of empathy in kids have besides been correlated with the development of many positive behaviours at all ages. Seja and Russ ( 1999 ) discovered a strong correlativity between high degrees of phantasy drama and empathy in first and 2nd graders. This tendency indicates that being able to vicariously understand the emotions of others is related to creativeness and imaginativeness. The ability to sympathize is besides correlated with increased prosocial behaviour and emotional expressiveness and penetration ( Roberts & A ; Strayer, 1996 ) . Empathy besides appears to increase a kid & # 8217 ; s comfort degree and openness around other people, and decreases the physical distance they place between themselves and others ( Strayer & A ; Roberts, 1997 ) .

Creativity, imaginativeness, prosocial behaviour, emotional expressiveness and penetration, and increased personal openness are surely positive behaviours to promote in immature kids, as is empathy itself. Kalliopuska and Tiitinen ( 1991 ) developed two plans for fostering empathy in six and seven twelvemonth old kids over a 4 month period. One plan emphasized empathetic development through music, combined with physical activity and art. The pupils learned vocals about caring for animate beings and friendly relationship. The other activities included vocals and active games, sculpting clay images of schoolmates and reflecting their emotions, and playing games about comforting others. In the 2nd plan, empathy was developed utilizing play and narratives. Children played the functions of instructors and pupils ordaining an animate being & # 8217 ; s first twenty-four hours at school. Students besides used marionettes to move out narratives about doing friends, and subsequently discussed the narratives and the emotions of their characters.

Both plans were extremely effectual in learning empathy ; the kids in the trial groups showed important additions in empathy and prosociability after the 4-month plan relation to kids in the control group. In the status stressing narratives and play, kids showed an even greater addition in these behaviours. These consequences indicate that empathy can be consciously taught, and that utilizing play and narratives, where kids can take on and see and hear the function of another, is a really effectual method of learning empathetic behaviour.

There is farther grounds to bespeak that the usage of narratives is an effectual manner of learning empathy to immature kids. Kagan and Knudson ( 1982 ) conducted a survey in which five to seven twelvemonth olds were played tapes of grownups involved in happy, angry, dying, and sad interactions. The same participants were besides told narratives about kids sing the same four emotions. Children showed significantly higher degrees of affectional empathy toward the kids in narratives than the grownups on tape. This lends farther support to the thought that kids react more sympathetically to characters in narratives than in other media. The consequences besides suggest that kids are more empathic to other kids than toward grownups, perchance because it is easier to place with the feelings of a equal whose emotions they are more likely to portion. Children besides showed more empathy toward supporters who experienced misfortune than they did toward those in more mundane fortunes ( Strayer & A ; Roberts, 1997 ) .

The intent of the present survey was to step degrees of empathy in preschool-aged kids when storytelling was incorporated, and to compare these degrees to empathy exhibited when storytelling was non used. Where old research used narratives as an built-in portion of empathy steps, in the current survey storytelling was non straight involved in the empathy step. Because most immature kids are merely read narratives and non consciously taught empathy along with them, this seemed a more realistic theoretical account for proving the effectivity of storytelling on a kid & # 8217 ; s affectional empathy. Based on old research, it was hypothesized that kids would exhibit higher degrees of empathy after hearing a narrative with a sympathetic, school-aged supporter than when merely asked inquiries from an empathy step.



Participants were 17 kids between three and five old ages of age ( 12 male childs and 5 misss, average age 4 old ages, 5 months ) . Participants were obtained through a preschool affiliated with Earlham College, a local community centre, and through reaching module, staff, and community members by word of oral cavity. All parents and defenders were told all inside informations of the survey in a missive in progress, and all kids participated with their parent & # 8217 ; s cognition and written consent. Parents were provided with the consequences at the decision of the experiment.


Participants were read a image book, Hooway for Wodney Wat, ( Lester, 1999 ) . The kids were besides given the Young Children & # 8217 ; s Empathy Measure ( Appendix A ) , developed by Robert Poresky ( 1990 ) . The Young Children & # 8217 ; s Empathy Measure ( YCEM ) consisted of four verbally presented sketchs, each designed to arouse one of four emotions: unhappiness, fright, choler and felicity. The kids were so asked two inquiries after each sketch. & # 8220 ; How does the kid experience? & # 8221 ; was used to mensurate each kid & # 8217 ; s cognitive position, and & # 8220 ; How do you experience about this? & # 8221 ; was used to mensurate each kid & # 8217 ; s affectional position.


The kids were each visited separately three times by the experimenter. Visits were conducted either in the kid & # 8217 ; s preschool or place, and the same location was used in each session.

In the first session, the YCEM was administered and replies were recorded, to set up a baseline empathy mark for each kid. The 2nd session took topographic point on a different twenty-four hours, and the experimenter read the narrative to the kid. Immediately subsequently, the YCEM was administered a 2nd clip, and a 2nd mark was recorded. The narrative was non discussed in relation to the YCEM.

The 3rd session took topographic point 1 hebdomad after the 2nd, to measure whether there would be any long-run effects of the narrative on empathy. The narrative was non mentioned by the experimenter, and the YCEM was administered a 3rd clip, and a 3rd mark was recorded.


Mean empathy tonss for baseline, immediate, and delayed trial conditions are shown in Table 1. Higher means indicate more appropriate looks of empathy. One-way perennial step ANOVAS were used to analyse the differences between the different experimental conditions for each sketch. For all points, agencies were higher for cognitive than for affectional empathy. Storytelling produced a important consequence in cognitive choler over the three conditions ( F ( df 2,32 ) = 4.216, P * .05 ) . Post hoc paired t-tests ( alpha set at.017 harmonizing to Bonferroni process ) revealed a important addition in empathy tonss from the baseline ( M = 3.0588, SD = .5557 ) to the immediate trial status ( M = 3.4706, SD = .5145, P * .017 ) . The same trial besides revealed fringy signifi

cance in the alteration of average tonss from the narrative status to the 2nd baseline trial ( M = 3.1765, SD = .3930, P = .056 ) . These consequences indicate that storytelling did increase the empathy expressed by participants.

No important alterations in average tonss were found in the staying seven questionnaire points, although an interesting tendency was revealed. There appeared to be a farther consequence of storytelling for several more questionnaire points aside from affectional choler. For cognitive unhappiness, affectional unhappiness, and affectional fright, average tonss increased from the baseline to the immediate status, although non significantly ( Table 1 ) . These increased agencies indicate a definite tendency of more appropriate looks of empathy when storytelling is employed.

In three of the eight questionnaire steps, cognitive fright, every bit good as both affectional and cognitive felicity, average tonss decreased from the baseline to the immediate status, although non significantly ( Table 1 ) . This tendency is interesting because it indicates a possible negative consequence of storytelling. For the staying point, affectional choler, means remained the same from the baseline to the immediate status. No effects of age or sex were found. Discussion

The hypothesis in this survey was non strongly supported. In one half of the questionnaire points, tonss increased as an consequence of storytelling, one significantly. In three of the four staying points, tonss dropped from the baseline to the narrative status. It is hard to find if these tendencies indicate whether or non storytelling has an consequence on kids & # 8217 ; s empathy, and whether it is positive or negative.

There are several possible accounts for a lessening in empathy tonss after hearing a narrative. The proving conditions were non ever the most appropriate for reading to a kid. At times, the trial was administered in a big room with several other kids, who frequently interrupted and asked inquiries about what was taking topographic point. This might hold increased the participant & # 8217 ; s distractability or reduced the attending span, which in bend could cut down the impact and effectivity of storytelling. A more ideal testing environment would be one that is quiet and the full attending of the experimenter and the kid can be given to the narrative being read and the trial being administered.

When working with preschool aged participants, it is besides of import to observe that their logic is non ever the same as that of an grownup, and that it is rather variable. When asked, & # 8220 ; how does a kid who merely lost its best friend feel? & # 8221 ; , a immature kid may react, & # 8220 ; like he couldn & # 8217 ; t go. & # 8221 ; This reply might really good do perfect sense to the kid, but it becomes hard for the experimenter to find what kind of emotion this is, and how it might be coded for informations analysis. During the following session, nevertheless, the same kid may be believing in a different manner and give the response that is considered most appropriate, & # 8220 ; sad. & # 8221 ; In the head of the kid, nevertheless, these two apparently different replies may intend precisely the same emotion. The variableness in logic and verbal look of immature kids can therefore greatly consequence the responses given on a questionnaire.

In the present survey, it was interesting to analyze the kids & # 8217 ; s apprehension of affectional versus cognitive empathy. Participants systematically demonstrated a better apprehension of what another kid & # 8217 ; s emotion would be than what their ain would be in response to the other kid & # 8217 ; s state of affairs. The inquiry & # 8220 ; how does this kid experience? & # 8221 ; leaves much less room for reading that the inquiry, & # 8220 ; how do you experience about that? & # 8221 ; It is possible that the latter could be interpreted as, & # 8220 ; how do you experience about being in that state of affairs? & # 8221 ; or & # 8220 ; how do you experience about the kid & # 8217 ; s engagement in that state of affairs? & # 8221 ; If interpreted the first manner, the kid must merely set him or herself in a state of affairs which he or she has most likely experienced, which is much more concrete, and easier to make at this immature age. The inquiry becomes more hard when construe the 2nd manner, which requires the kid to associate to an fanciful kid in an fanciful state of affairs.

Another interesting tendency was which emotions appeared to be best understood. Children systematically mistook choler for unhappiness, in response to the sketch, & # 8220 ; a kid truly wants to travel out but is non allowed. & # 8221 ; The alteration in agencies from the baseline to the narrative was important, but average tonss were by and large lower for anger than for unhappiness, fright, and felicity. This indicates that immature kids are less cognizant of choler than other basic emotions, that it is more hard for them to joint, or perchance that they equate it with unhappiness. Children were most likely to right place unhappiness and felicity systematically, which perchance indicates that they are more cognizant of these emotions, and are better able to verbalise them.

There was an indicant that hearing a narrative with a sympathetic supporter does really take a kid to show more empathy. If administered to a larger sample in a more consistent and appropriate environment, it is rather possible a important consequence of storytelling could be found. In the present survey, no effort was made to consciously stress and learn empathy along with storytelling. In future research, storytelling could be proven more effectual when combined with a deliberate instruction of empathy, which has besides been shown to be extremely effectual. Future research could besides analyze the effects of different types of storybooks, with different types of characters and state of affairss, and how this might alter a immature kid & # 8217 ; s looks of empathy toward others.


Bryant, B. ( 1982 ) . An index of empathy for kids and striplings. Child Development, 53, 413-425.

Feshbach, N. D. ( 1975 ) . Empathy in kids: some theoretical and empirical considerations. Reding Psychologist, 5, 25-30.

Gove, F. , & A ; Keating, D. ( 1979 ) . Empathic role-taking precursors. Developmental Psychology, 15 ( 6 ) , 594-600.

Kagan, S. , & A ; Knudson, K. ( 1982 ) . Relationship of empathy and affectional role-taking in immature kids. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 141, 149-150.

Kalliopuska, M. , & A ; Tiitinen, U. ( 1991 ) . Influence of two developmental programmes on the empathy and prosociability of preschool kids. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72, 323-328.

Lester, H. ( 1999 ) . Hooway for wodney wat. United States: Houghton Mifflin.

Olweus, D. , & A ; Endresen, I. ( 1998 ) . The importance of sex-of-stimulus object: age tendencies and sex differences in empathetic reactivity. Social Development, 7 ( 3 ) , 370-388 ) .

Piaget, J. ( 1966 ) . Psychology of intelligence. Totowa, N. J. : Littlefield, Adams.

Poresky, R. ( 1990 ) . The immature kids & # 8217 ; s empathy step: dependability, cogency and effects of comrade

carnal bonding. Psychological Reports, 66, 931-936.

Roberts, W. , & A ; Strayer, J. ( 1996 ) . Empathy, emotional expressiveness, and prosocial behaviour. Child Development, 67, 449-470.

Seja, A. , & A ; Russ, S. ( 1999 ) . Children & # 8217 ; s fantasy drama and emotional apprehension. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 28 ( 2 ) , 269-277.

Strayer, J. , & A ; Roberts, W. ( 1997 ) . Children & # 8217 ; s personal distance and their empathy: indices of interpersonal intimacy. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 20 ( 3 ) , 485- 503. Appendix A

The Young Children & # 8217 ; s Empathy Measure

Robert H. Poresky

1. Sadness: & # 8220 ; A kid has merely lost its best friend. & # 8221 ;

How does this kid experience?

How do you experience about this?

2. Fear: & # 8220 ; A kid is being chased by a large, awful monster. & # 8221 ;

How does this kid experience?

How do you experience about this?

3. Anger: & # 8220 ; A kid truly wants to travel out but is non allowed. & # 8221 ;

How does this kid experience?

How do you experience about this?

4. Happiness: & # 8220 ; A kid is traveling to its most favourite park to play. & # 8221 ;

How does this kid experience?

How do you experience about this?


4 = exact lucifer to intended emotion

3 = similar emotion

2 = some emotion

1 = nonemotional response

0 = no emotion

Table 1

Mean Empathy Scores for Questionnaire Items


















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