The Development of Empathy and Role-Taking Skills in Pupils from Grades Six to Nine.Report as inadecuate

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This study examined the development of empathy and role-taking skills in 194 Finnish students in Grades 6 and 9. Students wrote a story about a moral conflict in their school involving themselves or their friends. Story content and theme were analyzed and compared across age groups. Findings indicated that the themes of conflicts could be categorized as follows: (1) harassing; (2) peer relations; (3) teacher behavior; (4) adult behavior; and (5) common rules. Harassing was a more common theme for sixth graders (about 55 percent of stories) than for ninth graders (30 percent). The most common conflict theme identified by ninth graders was unjust teacher behavior (almost 50 percent). Conflicts over friendships and interpersonal social behavior were typical of sixth grade girls. Sixth graders' stories presented more themes related to adult than to teacher behavior. Sixth graders most often wrote about conflict between two students, whereas ninth graders wrote about conflicts between teachers and students. Sixth grade boys were clearly justice-oriented in their solutions to conflicts. About half the sixth grade girls expressed care-oriented moral judgments in their stories, with 38 percent expressing a justice-orientation. About half the ninth grade boys were justice-oriented, 14 percent were care-oriented, and 26 percent expressed no type of moral judgment. Ninth grade girls were more justice-oriented than sixth grade girls, with about 40 percent favoring justice-oriented solutions and 38 percent favoring care-oriented solutions. (Findings are discussed within a framework of emotional intelligence. (Contains 16 references.) (KB)

Descriptors: Age Differences, Comparative Analysis, Content Analysis, Early Adolescents, Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Foreign Countries, Intermediate Grades, Moral Development, Moral Issues, Moral Values, Perspective Taking, Secondary Education, Sex Differences, Value Judgment

Author: Tirri, Kirsi


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