Affectieve empathie en agressief gedrag bij 6 en 7-jarigen
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Background: A negative relationship between empathy and aggressive behavior was found among adolescents. So far, no consistent relationship between these constructs among children is found. The purpose of the present study was to extend previous findings about the relationship between empathy and aggressive behavior in children by using different measures. First, the relationship between affective empathy and aggression is investigated. Second, the predictive value of empathy for aggressive behavior one year later is investigated. Methods: Data were gathered from 37 normal children, aged six and seven years. At the first measurement, The „Griffith Empathy Measure‟ (GEM) and the „Interpersonal Response Task‟ (IRT) were used to measure empathy. The Child Behavior CheckList (CBCL), the Teacher Report Form (TRF) and the Instrument for Reactive and Proactive Aggression (IRPA) were used to measure aggression. At the follow-up measurement one year later, aggression was measured with the same instruments. Results: Contrary to the expectations, no relationships between affective empathy and aggressive behavior were found. Also, empathy did not predict aggressive behavior one year later, except for one part of the IRT for the IRPA Teacher. Discussion: The absence of an empirical relationship between affective empathy and aggressive behavior is discussed. Some critical remarks and suggestions for further research are given.