This longitudinal study examined the association between communication in the family on the development of empathy in young children. Co-regulation and family expressiveness measured communication in parent-child dyads at age 12 months (N = 186), 24 months (N = 100), and 36 months (N = 78). A follow-up was conducted at 60 months (N = 47) to measure empathy-related responding in children. Co-regulation styles change over time, generally increasing in the most engaged, two-way style of communication (symmetrical) and decreasing in one-sided and less engaged types. Greater family expressiveness predicted higher levels of empathy as observed in an empathy-eliciting experiment, but not as measured by mother interview, questionnaire, or child's response to facial expressions. In addition, empathy was not associated with the change in symmetrical co-regulation. The results of this study indicate that open, emotional family communication may be more important in the development of empathy than the style of dyadic communication.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Stone, Sarah Ann, "A Path to Empathy: Child and Family Communication" (2015). All Theses and Dissertations. 5650.
empathy, empathy-related responding, communication, co-regulation, family expressiveness, child, family, dyad, emotion socialization