A Measure of Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Children Using Parent Ratings

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The construct of “empathy” embodies a number of characteristics necessary for psychological health in children. Surprisingly, most research has been based solely on children and adolescent report and observational measures despite evidence that multi-informant assessment is fundamental to the accurate measurement of such constructs. We present research documenting the development and validation of a brief parent-report measure of child empathy targeted at the formative years for the development of empathic skills, through to adolescence. The Griffith Empathy Measure, adapted from the Bryant Index of Empathy, showed convergence with child ratings, and good reliability and validity across gender and age. Consistent with theoretical accounts of empathy, it was found to include affective and cognitive components that showed divergent associations with other aspects of child functioning.

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