Empathie. Sekseverschil bij kinderen van zes en zeven jaar
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Background: Empathy consists of three components: the sharing of another’s emotional state (affective empathy), the explicit understanding of another’s emotional state (cognitive empathy) and the empathic reaction which follows, including the physiological- and behavioral response. In this study we assessed the effect of gender on empathy. Behavioral studies suggest that girls perform better in empathic tasks from the age of 8 years on. There also seems to be some evidence that even at younger age this difference exists between boys and girls. Methods: The present study examined gender differences in empathy and the empathic behavioral response in a sample of thirty-eight six and seven year old children in regular primary education. Different questionnaires for parents and teacher were used for measuring empathy and related aspects of empathy. Also, a computer game to measure the behavioral response of empathy was used. Results: For the several measurements no difference in empathy and the behavioral response between boys and girls was found. Discussion: The absence of a gender difference in empathy is discussed. Some critical remarks about the measurements used and suggestions for further research are given.