Program

May 24, 2007

OVERVIEW

A cognitive/affective empathy training program was developed
for aggressive females at a residential treatment center. Research
indicates that empathy includes understanding the perspective of others (a
cognitive process) as well as vicariously sharing in the emotions of others (an
affective or emotional process). For this reason, the intervention was
designed to teach both affective and cognitive empathy skills.

Students assigned to receive this empathy training scored
significantly higher on a measure of affective empathy than did students
assigned to the control group. Treatment students did not score
significantly higher than control students on a measure of cognitive empathy,
however.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population:Adolescents in need of increased
empathy levels

This affective/cognitive empathy training program consisted
of four 1.5-hour sessions. The first session dealt with identifying
affective states in others. The second session focused on improving
subjects’ role-taking abilities. The third session assisted subjects in
sharing in the emotional states of others. The fourth, and final, session
helped subjects to develop objective procedures for observing and inferring
possible causes of behaviors and affective states. All sessions presented
concepts in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic ways and frequently involved
role-plays.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Pecukonis, E.V.
(1990).A Cognitive/Affective Empathy Training
Program As A Function Of Ego Development In Aggressive Adolescent
Females. Adolescence, 25(97), 59-74.

Evaluated population: A total of 24 aggressive females aged 14
to 17 from a residential treatment center served as the subjects for this
study. These females were all of low-to-middle socioeconomic status and
of normal intelligence. Four subjects were lost to attrition, but
attrition rates were identical between treatment and control groups.

Approach: All subjects completed measures assessing
empathy and ego development. The top 50% of scorers on the ego
development measure were identified high ego development scorers and the
remaining subjects were identified as low ego development scorers. The
high scorers were randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the
control group and then the low scorers were randomly assigned; thus both groups
contained six high scorers and six low scorers.

Subjects assigned to the treatment group received empathy
training in four 1.5-hour sessions spaced out over two weeks. Subjects
assigned to the control group were put on a waiting list.

10 weeks after baseline measures were completed, subjects
completed measures assessing empathy again.

Results: Subjects assigned to the treatment group
scored significantly higher on a post-test measure of affective empathy than
did subjects assigned to the control group. Treatment subjects did not
score higher on a measure of cognitive empathy, however. Researchers had
predicted that subjects with high levels of ego development would be better
able to profit from the empathy intervention, but this hypothesis was not
supported; the extent to which the empathy training program impacted treatment
subjects was not related to pre-test scores on a measure of ego development.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Program materials are not available for purchase.

References:

Pecukonis, E.V. (1990).A Cognitive/Affective Empathy Training Program As A
Function Of Ego Development In Aggressive Adolescent Females. Adolescence,
25(97)
, 59-74.

KEYWORDS: Aggression,
Behavioral Problems, Gender Specific (Female Only), Social/Emotional Health and
Development, Cognitive Development, Life Skills Training, Clinic-Based,
Provider-Based, Adolescents, Youth, Adolescence, Counseling/Therapy.

Program information last updated on
5/24/07.