Prosocial reasoning and empathy in gifted children [thesis]

Peta Kerin Hay
This study aimed to enhance understanding of the moral reasoning of gifted children. While research has explored the justice moral reasoning of gifted children (Arbuthnot, 1973; Chovan & Freeman, 1993; Gross, 1993; Henderson, Gold, & Clarke, 1984; Howard-Hamilton, 1994), this study explored prosocial moral reasoning, moral reasoning which involves conflict between one's own needs and desires and the needs and desires of others. In addition, this study sought to gather empirical evidence for
more » ... rature claims that gifted children have higher levels of empathy than their age peers (Lovecky, 1997; Piechowski, 2003; Silverman, 1993b). The study aimed to investigate the possible relationships among giftedness, prosocial reasoning and empathy. Primary (elementary) school students aged between 9 and 12 years in the Sydney Metropolitan area were administered The Prosocial Reasoning Objective Measure (PROM), The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and The Index of Empathy for Children and Adolescents (IOE) questionnaires. The results for gifted students (n = 176) were compared with a control group of students not identified as gifted (n = 128). The study found that gifted students used more of the highest level of prosocial reasoning in the PROM than their age peers. Furthermore, gifted students used more empathic concern, fantasy empathy and cognitive empathy than their age peers, although ability was not predictive of the other empathy factors in the instruments. Small but significant correlations between some types of empathy and some levels of prosocial reasoning were also found, indicating possible relationships between empathy and prosocial reasoning. Interviews were conducted with selected students (n = 13) from the above sample, along with some of their teachers (n = 5) and parents (n = 2). Despite the small sample, the interviews seemed to indicate a relationship between experience with bullying and prosocial reasoning. The study highlights the need for an empathy questionnaire that specifically tests co [...]
doi:10.26190/unsworks/17940 fatcat:udgjolsbuzclpcmdyh25hpf4na