First Advisor

Cathleen L. Smith

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology






Social perception in children, Socialization, Sympathy



Physical Description

1 online resource (98 p.)


The present study focused upon both behavioral and cognitive aspects of sympathetic responses in preschool children. Subjects, 36 boys and girls aged 33-75 months, were seen at their regular day care center. An attempt was made to promote comforting behavior through the use of a peer model both alone and accompanied by an adult's inductive statement regarding the consequences of a sympathetic response; a six year-old girl served as the sympathetic model and as an apparently injured victim in need of comforting. In addition, age- and sex-related relationships for the measures of social cognition, affective perspective-taking and knowledge of strategies for intervening when another person's plight invites sympathetic concern, were examined. The former measure employed a commonly used task presenting children with picture stories in which a target character's facial expression is not congruent with information provided by the story situation. Such stimuli have been thought to assess the ability to assume the emotional point of view of a particular person (empathic judgment), as opposed to the egocentric projection of one's own perspective onto another (projective judgment). Capacities for recognizing and explaining situationally consistent emotions (social comprehension and explanation of affect) and explaining the incongruent facial and situational cues (awareness of discrepancy) were also evaluated. The psychometric properties of these measures were a major concern; consequently, internal consistency reliability as well as age- and sex-related differences among item means, which were presumed to reflect differences in item difficulty, were examined for each component of both measures. Finally, relationships among all measures were examined.


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