The role of emotion regulation in situational empathy‐related responding and prosocial behaviour in the presence of negative affect

Authors:
Sascha Hein, Mandy Röder, Michael Fingerle
Published Online:
15 Dec 2016
DOI:
10.1002/ijop.12405
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

Additional Options

Empathy and prosocial behaviour are crucial factors for children's positive social adjustment. Contemporary models of empathy highlight the capacity to regulate vicariously experienced emotions as a precursor to empathy‐related responses (e.g., prosocial behaviour). The goal of this study was to examine the role of emotion regulation (ER) in situational empathy‐related responding and prosocial behaviour. A sample of 157 children (76 boys and 81 girls; Mage = 9.94 years) participated in a two‐tiered interview procedure that utilised vignettes to assess empathy and prosocial behaviour. Between both phases of the interview, a negative affect was induced to investigate the influence of ER on the change between the two phases. Results from a latent change model showed that ER strategies positively predicted change scores, that is, children with higher abilities to regulate emotions showed a higher increase in empathy and prosocial behaviour. Implications for the promotion of social‐emotional learning in school are discussed.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science