Adolescent Empathy and Conflict Resolution.
Poll, A. van de
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Bullying is a common phenomenon that often has negative consequences for victims. Because there is little research on predictors of bullying, and few intervention programs have been successful, this study investigates the relations between empathy and four bullying roles (bully, victim, passive bystander, and active defender). In total, 141 adolescents, aged 13-18, from grades two and four (HAVO) filled in two questionnaires: the Interpersonal Reactivity Index and the Participant Role Questionnaire. Linear regression analyses showed that boys were less empathic, scored higher on bullying and victimization, and lower on active defender behavior than girls. Younger adolescents showed more active defender behavior and were more often victimized than older adolescents. Notably, empathy was significantly related to active defender behavior. Additionally, empathy mediated the relation between gender and active defender behavior. These findings demonstrate the importance of recruiting (female) active defenders in bullying prevention programs, because of their higher levels of empathy.