The Effects of peer influence and empathy on the altruism of young adolescents
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AbstractThis study investigated the effects of peer influence and dispositional empathy on the altruism of young adolescents. The subjects, 203 junior high school students were divided into three treatment groups: peer exhortation, adult exhortation and no exhortation and into high and low empathy groups. The study was conducted in two sessions. In the first session, subjects completed a measure of dispositional empathy, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980) and viewed a film documentary about the plight of African famine victims and the relief efforts of the International Red Cross. Prior to viewing the films, two of the treatment groups were exposed to a brief charitable exhortation delivered by either a high-status peer or a teacher. Approximately one week later the subjects reassembled. The same speakers delivered a second brief exhortation to their respective groups and subjects completed an index of altruism and anti-utilitarianism. The subjects then received a $0.50 payment for their participation in the study and were told that they could donate up to $0.45 to famine relief. Multivariate analyses of variance were used to assess the relationships of exhortation and trait empathy with charitable donations, altruism and anti-utilitarianism. The multivariate analyses of variance revealed no significant exhortation effects for the overall group. Exhortation effects did, however, appear for those subjects who had scored in the top and bottom thirds (approximately) of the empathic concern subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980). Stepdown-F tests and t-tests revealed that subjects in the peer-exhortation group scored significantly higher on the anti-utilitariansim measure than did subjects in the adult-exhortation group (p=.007). Analyses of variance and corresponding stepdown-F tests revealed that both overall empathy and empathic concern significantly and positively affected charitable donations and altruism scores (p=.001) but not to anti-utilitarianism.
Bibliography: p. 102-112.
CitationLitvack-Miller, W. (1986). The Effects of peer influence and empathy on the altruism of young adolescents (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/19089
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