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(Butters 2010)*

Title:  A META-ANALYSIS OF EMPATHY TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR CLIENT POPULATIONS 
DOI or Website Link:  
Publication: Dissertation:
Authors:   
Affiliation(s):  University of Utah, College of Social Work,
Citation: 

Comments:


Abstract:   
"The research questions for this study are as follows:
  • 1. "Do empathy training programs increase empathy in client populations?"
  • 2. "Is there variation in empathy training program outcomes?"
  • 3." What moderating variables contribute to empathy training programs and what is the relative strength of these variables?"...

 "Empathy is a core component of human relationships and a cornerstone of effective interpersonal skills. Low levels of empathy are associated with negative outcomes while high empathy contributes to prosocial behaviors. A large body of literature exists on empathy but as yet there is no comprehensive review or meta-analysis of empathy training programs with client populations. 

This study is a meta-analysis that includes 24 studies of empathy training programs for client populations. The findings suggest that empathy training programs are effective in increasing empathy with an overall large effect size of g = 0.911.

 ...These findings lead to a discussion on the
  •  measurement of empathy,
  •  the components of empathy,
  •  and the very construct of  empathy.
 The study concludes with recommendations for further research on empathy training programs.
 


Topic Area:
 (In which field / sector / perspective was this study conducted?)
  • social work
Definition(How was empathy defined?)
  • "Cognitive empathy is the ability to accurately perceive and  appropriately respond to the thoughts and feeling of another person, while affective empathy is the actual emotional sharing of another’s emotional state (Carkhuff & Truax, 1965; Hodges & Meyers, 2007)."
  • "One of the tensions in studying empathy relates to the way empathy is defined. Currently, no consensus exists on how to define empathy, how it functions and manifests in interpersonal relationships, or how to train or measure it. This conceptual fragmentation, which informs this inquiry, confounds a comprehensive definition of empathy and contributes to inadequate methodology and measurement of outcomes of training programs (Varker, Devilly, Ward, & Beech 2008)"


Benefits(Were any benefits of empathy mentioned?)

  • interventions that target interpersonal functioning consistently describe the cultivation of empathy as a central component of treatment across a wide variety of clients and settings (Hepworth, Rooney, Rooney, Strom-Gottfried, & Larsen, 2010).
  • Empathy is a basic human quality that dissolves feelings of alienation and allows people to connect with others (Rogers, 1959).

  • Empathy is a critical component in prosocial behaviors and moderates aggressive behavior (Eisenberg & Miller, 1988)
  • and the absence of empathy is a hallmark of autism and psychopathy (Blair, 2008).
  • Empathy helps individuals establish and maintain friendships (Del Barrio, Aluja, & Garcia, 2004; Hay, 1994),
  •  enhances satisfaction in intimate relationships (Long, Angera, & Hakoyama, 2008),
  • improves the quality of family relationships (Guerney, 1988),
  • and is positively associated with family cohesion, parental support, and communicative responsiveness (Henry, Sager, & Plunkett, 1996).
  •  Empathy has been positively correlated with helping behaviors and negatively correlated with aggression (Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006a; Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972).
  • Studies indicate that increases in empathy can reduce sexual assaults and the incidence of domestic violence (Berg, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999; Foubert, 2006; O’Donohue, 2003).
  • Further support for the salutary effects of empathy comes from studies of parent training programs, where increasing parental empathy is believed to reduce children’s aggressive and acting-out behaviors (Eyberg, Nelson, & Boggs, 2008; McMahon& Washburn, 2003).
  • Further, some research has demonstrated that improving empathy through family and couples counseling leads to improved relationships and decreased family problems (Long, 1999)
  • "many social work interventions seek to increase client empathy in an attempt to decrease dysfunctional behaviors and improve social functioning(BUTTERS 2010)*
  • "African American youth (McMahon & Washburn, 2003), a school based program showed significant increases in empathy following participation in the program. The increases in empathy were associated with a reduction in aggressive behaviors."
  • high empathy = "in adolescents are positively associated with helping behaviors toward victimized schoolmates (Gini et al., 2007)"
  • high empathy = "prosocial and helping behaviors (Davis, 1994; Eisenberg et al., 2006; Eisenberg & Miller, 1987; Hoffman, 2000)"

Problems from not having empathy or low empathy.
  • low empathy =  "disrupted attachments, trauma, neglect, or other life experiences that preclude the development or expression of empathy (Garber, 1997)."

  • low empathy =  "the inability to view the world from other individuals' perspectives or to feel sympathy toward their suffering (Davis, 1994)"

  • low empathy = "inability to view the world from other individuals' perspectives or to feel sympathy toward their suffering (Davis, 1994)
  • low empathy =  "predisposition toward prejudice (McFarland, 1998)."
  • low empathy =  "characteristic of pervasive developmental disorders, like autism, and psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, and has been strongly linked to aggression (Wiehe, 1997),"
  • low empathy =  "psychopathy (Blair 2008),"
  • low empathy =   "criminal behaviors, and sexual offending (Varker et al., 2008)"
  • low empathy =   "adolescents are also associated with bullying others (Endresen & Olweus, 2001; Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006a)"
  • low empathy = failure to recognize distress,

Criticisms  (Were any criticisms, negative effects or risks of empathy mentioned?)
  • fraternity rape 
  • Ingroup and Outgroup


Methods(What were the methods used to train empathy?)
  •  recognize emotions 
  • respond appropriately


Target Group:  (Who participated in this study / training?)
  • considerable variation of target populations 
  • diverse client groups



Measurements:  (About the assessment: How was the change in empathy measured before/after the intervention/method?) 




Result:
(What was the result?)
  • Findings suggest that empathy training programs are effective in increasing empathy
  • Empathy training programs can be effective and lead to other positive outcomes.
  • Sexual offenders: +empathy lead to -sexual offending. (Marshall, O’Sullivan, & Fernandez, 1996),
  • African American youth: +empathy lead to  - aggressive behaviors.   (McMahon & Washburn, 2003),
  • Couples in romantic relationships: +empathy lead to  +relationship satisfaction (Long,Angera, Carter, Nakamoto, & Kelso, 1999),
  • Mothers: +empathy lead to +acceptance, +empathy, +positive attention towards their children and -child behavior problems
  • Empathy is learnable. "Many of these theorists and researchers propose that our capacity for empathy is largely static and difficult to change, exemplifying the classic either you have it or you don’t philosophy. The conceptualization of empathy as a static factor has been generally disproven through research on empathy training programs, as described below.""

Posted By:  
 
Notes: 
(Any other relevant information
meta-analysis that includes 24 studies of empathy training programs for client populations


Studies Evaluated 

*Angera, J. and E. Long (2006). Qualitative and quantitative evaluations of an empathy training program for couples in marriage and romantic relationship. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 5(1), 1-26.  

*Berg, D., Lonsway, K., & Fitzgerald, L. (1999). Rape prevention education for men: The effectiveness of empathy-induction techniques. Journal of College Student Development, 40(3), 219-234.  

*Dorfman, F. D. (1993). The effects of empathy training on adolescent sex offenders’ level of empathy. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A, 65  

*Foubert, J. D. and Newberry J. T. (2006). Effects of two versions of an empathy-based rape prevention program on fraternity men's survivor empathy, attitudes, and behavioral intent to commit rape or sexual assault. Journal of College Student Development 47(2), 133-148.


*Guzzetta, R. (1976). Acquisition and transfer of empathy by the parents of early adolescents through structured learning training. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 23(5), 449-453. 

*Haynes, L. A., & Avery, A.W. (1979). Training adolescents in self-disclosure and empathy skills. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 26, 526-30.  

*Heran, W. J. (2005). The effects of global empathy training on attachment styles, social competencies and empathy deficits with male adolescent sex offenders in courtordered residential treatment. Dissertation Abstracts International, 66, 3463A.  
*Isquick, M.F. (1981). Training older people in empathy: Effects on empathy, attitudes, and self-exploration. International Journal of Aging and HumanDevelopment, 13, 1-14. 

*Janoka, C., & Scheckenbach, A. (1978). Empathy training with inmates and staff utilizing the Carkhuff model. Corrective and Social Psychiatry and Journal of Behavior Technology, Methods and Therapy, 24, 6-12. 

*Kalliopuska, M., & Tiitinen, U. (1991). Influence of two developmental programmes on the empathy and prosociability of preschool children. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72, 323-328. 

*Kalliopuska, M., & Ruokonen, I. (1993). A study with a follow-up of the effects of music education on holistic development of empathy. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76, 131-137. 

*Kimberlin, C., & Friesen, D. (1977). Effects of client ambivalence, trainee conceptual level, and empathy training condition on empathic responding. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24(4), 354-358. 

*Kipper, D. A., & Ben-Ely, Z. (1979). The effectiveness of the psychodramatic double method, the reflection method, and lecturing in the training of empathy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 370-375.
*Kremer, J. F., & Dietzen, L. L. (1991). Two approaches to teaching accurate empathy to undergraduates: Teacher-intensive and self-directed. Journal of College Student Development, 32, 69-75. 

*Lomis, M. J., and L. L. Baker (1985). Microtraining of forensic psychiatric patients for empathic counseling skills. Journal of Counseling Psychology 32(1), 84-93. 

*Long, E. C. J., Angera, J. J., Carter, S. J., Nakamoto, M., & Kalso, M. (1999). Understanding the one you love: A longitudinal assessment of an empathy training program for couples in romantic relationships. Family Relations, 48, 235- 242. 

*Long, E. C. J., Angera, J. J., & Hakoyama, M. (2006). Using videotaped feedback during intervention with married couples: A qualitative assessment. Family Relations, 55, 428-438. 

*Marshall, W. L., O’Sullivan, C., & Fernandez, Y. M. (1996). The enhancement of victim empathy among incarcerated child molesters. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 1, 95-102. 

*Ogle, N. (2008). Cultivating empathy among undergraduate students through the implementation of personalization exercises. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A, 69. 

*Pithers, W. D. (1999). Empathy: Definition, enhancement, and relevance to the treatment of sexual abusers. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14(3), 257-284  

*Pecukonis, E. V. (1990). A cognitive/affective empathy training program as a function of ego development in aggressive adolescent females. Adolescence, 25, 59-76.  

*Schewe, P. A., & O'Donohue, W. (1993). Sexual abuse prevention with high-risk males: The roles of victim empathy and rape myths. Violence and Victims, 8, 339-351. 

*Therrien, M. E. (1979). Evaluating empathy skill training for parents. Social Work, 24, 417-418. 

*Uhlemann, M. R. & Koehn, C. V. (1989). Effects of covert and overt modeling on the communication of empathy. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 23, 372-381. 




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