Age-related and individual differences in adolescents' and emerging adults' stories of real-life empathic and nonempathic experiences were examined. A total of 29 adolescents (M = 15.28, SD = .99) and 31 emerging adults (M = 18.23, SD = .56) told stories of empathic and nonempathic life events and completed measures of authoritative parenting and dispositional empathy. Older participants recalled more empathic and nonempathic experiences overall and expressed more meaning making and prosocial engagement in their stories. Higher dispositional empathy predicted a stronger sense of self as empathic and greater prosocial engagement. Perceptions of mothers but not fathers as authoritative predicted more prosocial engagement and a stronger sense of self as empathic. These findings are discussed in relation to the development of the life story and narrative identity (McAdams, 2001), and suggest that this model can be extended in novel ways to the domain of personal empathy.
Soucie, Kendall M.; Lawford, Heather; and Pratt, Michael W.
"Personal Stories of Empathy in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 58
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol58/iss2/2