Empathy Helps Explain How Parental Support Can Prevent Teen Delinquency

A new study of nearly 4,000 school children has found that youngsters who feel they have empathic support from their parents and caregivers are verging away from a wide range of delinquent behavior, such as committing crimes.

Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Moral Education, the research, which drew on data surveying children over a four year period from when they were aged 12 to 17, also shows that those who received empathy were less likely to execute acts of serious delinquent behavior, compared to those who simply felt they had supportive parents.

In addition, the new findings — out today — demonstrate that parents/caregivers who display greater empathy enhance their teenagers’ own development of empathy, or the ability to acknowledge and understand the feelings of others.

The results follow an investigation of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children data source, which features a series of interviews with 3,865 boys and girls across Australia over the period when delinquent behavior first tends to appear.

Author of the paper, Professor Glenn Walters from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, USA, states his findings demonstrate that parental support, as perceived by the child, plays a “small but significant role” in the development of empathy in early adolescent youth.

The Associate Professor of Criminal Justice adds: “Empathy in youth also appears to have the power to mediate the negative association between perceived parental support and future juvenile delinquency.”

The study was launched to expand on results of several previous articles which investigated the relationship between parental support and delinquent behavior in teenagers. The proposition is that strong parental support reduces the propensity for such behavior. However, the results have been mixed.

Forensic psychologist Professor Walters wanted further clarification. Could parental support and delinquent behavior include an indirect relationship, rather than direct, and be mediated by another factor: high levels of empathy?

To find out, he first scrutinized two interview sessions where the children were asked about their level of parental support as they perceived it, and their development of empathy. To determine parental support, they were asked to rate statements such as “I trust my parents” and “I talk to my parents.” To assess empathy, they were asked to rate statements such as “I try to empathize with friends,” and “I try to make others feel better.”

In the final session, when they were 16 or 17, they were asked how often they had engaged in 17 delinquent acts in the past year. These acts varied in their seriousness, from drawing graffiti in a public place to purposely damaging or destroying property to using force or the threat of force to get money or things from someone.

Using a variety of statistical techniques, Professor Walters found that empathy did indeed appear to mediate the relationship between parental support and delinquent behavior. Children who reported more parental support tended to have higher levels of empathy, and these children were less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

“What the current study adds to the literature on the parental support-delinquency relationship is a mechanism capable of further clarifying this relationship,” Walters says. “The mechanism, according to the results of the present study, is empathy.”

He does concede, however, that other factors such as social interest and self-esteem may also play a role in mediating the relationship between parental support and teenage delinquency, and says these factors should be explored in future research.

Walters also suggests, in future research, empathy should be measured from a younger age and that new criminalities such as cybercrime — not included in this data set — should be assessed.

By Taylor & Francis Group

Source: Empathy helps explain how parental support can prevent teen delinquency: Study on 4,000 children monitored over four years, finds children who felt their parents were empathic were less likely to commit serious crime — ScienceDaily

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Journal Reference:

  1. Glenn D. Walters. In search of a mechanism: mediating the perceived parental support–delinquency relationship with child empathy. Journal of Moral Education, 2021; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2021.1872511
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5 Concrete Ways To Build Empathy Into Your Creative Practice

IMAGE: Three women working together on papers on a table

The concept of empathy has become ubiquitous in corporate culture—though some would argue that it’s just a trend. On a societal level, though, we’re dealing with an empathy crisis—and as creatives, the solution’s in our hands.

What is empathy?

Psychologists and empathy specialists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman have broken empathy down into not just one definition, but three different types.

Cognitive empathy is understanding what another human being is feeling, and potentially what they are thinking. Having cognitive empathy leads to better communication, negotiation, and motivation.

Emotional empathy is actually feeling what another person feels, whether that is joy or pain. We may feel the same whether we experience the emotion or whether we see someone else experience it. Daniel describes this as emotional contagion, which could be attributed to themirror neuron concept.

Compassionate empathy is both understanding a person’s situation and feeling for them, ultimately resulting in some kind of action.

What empathy isn’t

Empathy isn’t simply a soft skill, a fluffy feel-good term, or a tool for business. Empathy also isn’t about becoming so absorbed in a person or a situation that you let others take advantage of you.

Katherine Bell, former editor of Harvard Business Review, put it eloquently when she described her experience with empathy.

“I’ve learned that empathy isn’t about being nice or tolerant. It’s not about feeling sorry for people or giving them the benefit of the doubt. It’s an act of imagination in which you try to look at the world from the perspective of another person, a human being whose history and point of view are as complex as your own.”

Empathy in action

Empathy is an absolutely critical piece of a productive and functioning relationship. It’s the driving force of my business; I run Make a Mark, an organization bringing together altruistic creators and innovative humanitarian organizations. We hold 12-hour design and development make-a-thons benefitting local nonprofit organizations.

We learned early on that empathy is critical to the make-a-thon process, and we still take care to nurture that element of all the make-a-thons we run. Our projects are successful because of the depth of the relationships, community, and, ultimately, a strong sense of empathy beginning with the organizers.

As part of this, we work with site leaders around the globe to help craft the events. These site leaders are our eyes on the ground, working to build the perfect event for their specific community with our guidance and framework.

These two groups often have no understanding of how the other functions. Makers might talk about wireframes and vector files and hosting, while nonprofit leaders might talk about line items or tax codes or grant monitoring.

Our role is to facilitate successful brainstorming and build mutual respect—through empathy. While being empathetic leads to a more understanding, caring, and actionable society, it also leads to better results. Success comes from understanding who we work with—and for.

That is why in 12 hours, maker teams can craft something that would normally take months to create. They dig in so deeply with such open hearts and minds that the result is also always magical—often leaving nonprofits and makers in tears.

Create a better workflow

Understanding your coworkers is a key function of empathy in the workplace. In the US, we spend roughly 1/3 of our adult life at work—meaning we spend more of our waking hours with our coworkers than our family members.

While this is a trend that I certainly hope changes, with more remote companies like InVision and the opportunity to start our own initiatives, this means that finding ways to collaborate effectively and positively with our coworkers is key to our success and our happiness.

Being able to deeply relate to your clients is an essential element of empathy. In our relationships with nonprofits, we understand that their working lives are very different than our lives, or the lives of a designer in New York or developer in San Francisco; nonprofit employees often spend their days underpaid, under-resourced, and scrutinized by grant monitors, all while attempting to serve their populations.

While we are the experts on design and development for these organizations, these individuals are also experts in their fields—and we have a lot that we can learn from them. In 2016, at our second make-a-thon in Virginia, we were meeting with an organization providing temporary housing to the homeless during the cold winter months.

They applied for the make-a-thon needing a new website, and when we met with them and their maker team we were prepared to craft a sleek, feature-rich website. It became clear, however, after a few minutes of talking to their representative, that the real need was getting the information about the shelter to those experiencing homelessness—most of whom don’t have computers. But they do have smartphones.

We immediately scrapped the idea of a stylish and robust website and decided to focus on something hyper-simple and incredibly mobile-friendly. If we hadn’t paused to understand what the person experiencing homelessness was feeling and thinking (cognitive empathy), felt the struggle of that individual to find a place to stay (emotional empathy), and re-thought our whole approach to creating their website (compassionate empathy), then we wouldn’t have brought a useful, relevant solution for the nonprofit and their population in dire need.

Building empathy

So how do we actively build empathy? Is there any way to actually increase our empathy, especially in our work? Absolutely!

Ask questions

Too often we assume that we know the answer to questions from past experiences; that we know what a person is like and how they will act. Alternatively, we may view someone as so different from us that there is no way that we could collaborate or reach a common ground.

By asking questions, we challenge existing notions and increase our cognitive empathy. A few examples: How does this situation make you feel? What is the outcome you are hoping for? Can you explain your perspective to help me understand?

Of course, it isn’t just about the question that you ask; it’s also about the way that you ask it. Make sure that you approach the other calmly and openly so they don’t feel attacked or criticized. Asking questions is easy, but listening can be hard—because we regularly listen for the answers we want to hear.

Listening requires both your eyes and your ears. You can learn a lot from someone’s body language. Are they tense? Why are they tense? Is it because this topic is uncomfortable to them? If so, why? This leads to additional questions.

By listening, asking questions, and listening some more, we’re able to extend our cognitive empathy.

Consider outside factors (and leave your ego at the door)

Listening with both senses gives us insight into who people are—and why they are that way.

Maybe a coworker walks into the office in the morning and ignores your hello. This doesn’t mean that you are the cause of their frustration, even if you are the recipient of it.

I recall a time in a past job that a coworker that I worked closely with was consistently sending terse emails to me about materials that she was waiting for. These emails came frequently and often for no reason, straining our relationship. I dismissed this coworker as hostile and limited interactions with her, leading to poor collaborations and sub-par results.

I eventually spoke to another coworker about the situation and was informed that she was working to maintain her composure while her father was struggling with a chronic illness.

This opened my eyes to the vast situations that we all experience and improved my emotional empathy. I asked myself how I would maintain my positive attitude and interactions with coworkers while someone I loved deeply was struggling physically? How would I want my coworkers to treat me?

Allow time for reflection

Reflection is something that I personally value immensely. Anytime I am part of a meeting that I am not leading myself, I am radio silent. Ok, maybe not radio silent, but I like to listen and take in the information, digest it and return with my perspective.

Not everyone works like this, and not everyone should; if they did, meetings would be a bunch of people sitting around a table staring at each other. This reflection period, however, has its place—and certainly a role in building empathy.

We take in a lot of information every day, navigating complicated personal and professional relationships with coworkers and clients. With all that thinking, we need to spend some time reflecting—to better understand, navigate, and nurture those relationships.

Take action

With some thoughtfulness and a lot of care, empathy can be yours. This doesn’t mean you need to do something right at this moment, but keep in mind the outside forces, the internal struggles, and the predispositions of those you’re working with. Ask questions, listen, and reflect. Then, do what you believe is right—for your company, for your work, for others and for yourself.

Want to learn more about empathy?

Sarah Obenauer

 

By: Sarah Obenauer

Sarah Obenauer is the Founder & Director of Make a Mark, an organization created to provide resources and foster an environment where community organizations and visual communicators can engage with one another to better our world.Make a Mark’s flagship event is a 12-hour design and development marathon benefiting humanitarian causes.

Source: 5 concrete ways to build empathy into your creative practice | Inside Design Blog

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Empathy is a cornerstone for successful relationships, but it is a quality that has to be intentional. Most people like to feel understood, but the mark of maturity is in knowing how to demonstrate understanding. In the end, the understanding you wish to receive becomes more likely. Dr. Les Carter shares a story, then 9 essential adjustments that will help you become a more empathetic person.
Dr. Les Carter is a best selling author and therapist who lives in Dallas, TX. Over the past 39 years he has conducted 60,000 counseling sessions and many workshops and seminars. Books by Dr. Carter: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/When-… https://www.amazon.com/When-Pleasing-… https://www.amazon.com/Anger-Trap-You… https://www.amazon.com/Enough-About-Y… While Dr. Carter does not conduct online counseling, he has vetted a group who can assist you: https://betterhelp.com/drcarter (sponsored) Dr. Carter’s online workshops on narcissism, anger management, and overcoming infidelity: http://drlescarter.com/video-workshops/
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Researchers turn to newlywed couples to unravel questions about the chemistry of empathy and bonding

Love can make us do crazy things. It often prompts us to behave in counterintuitive ways, like, for example, placing the wellbeing of our loved ones above our own. But why? Such has perplexed and intrigued scientists for centuries. A new study out of UC Santa Barbara explores how an individual’s genetics and brain activity correlate with altruistic behaviors directed toward romantic partners.

Source: Researchers turn to newlywed couples to unravel questions about the chemistry of empathy and bonding

Empathy Will Help The World Change Course on Climate Change – Eco Business

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Small actions can have a big impact and individuals must believe in their ability to make a difference in the fight against climate change, said experts at the launch of Eco-Business’ film and photography exhibition this week.

“The government cannot tackle climate change alone. We need industry, households and individuals to play active roles. This is why we designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action—to raise awareness on climate change, and to spur collective action,” said Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, who was attending the official opening.

Bringing about a better understanding of climate change and spurring the public to take action is exactly what the exhibition Changing Course aims to do. The exhibition features photos and a short documentary about Antarctica created and curated by Eco-Business managing director Jessica Cheam and Scottish documentarian Fraser Morton.

They are a visual record of the duo’s experiences as part of the ClimateForce: Antarctica 2018 expedition in March, which was led by British environmentalist Sir Robert Swan. Part of Eco-Business’ year-long Changing Course campaign, the exhibition seeks to help the public understand the relationship between Antarctica and Asia.

Earth’s only uninhabited continent holds 90 per cent of the world’s freshwater, but is heating up faster than anywhere else due to climate change. Melting glaciers could flood coastal cities such as Jakarta and Shanghai by the end of the century if global warming is not stopped.

Photos and documentary From Asia to Antarctia are on display at the Green Pavilion in the Singapore Botanic Gardens until 12 July, with satellite exhibitions at the Marina Barrage and OCBC bank branches.

Empathy and social change

The launch also celebrated United Nations World Environment Day, held on 5 June every year, with plenary dialogue ‘From apathy to action: How to shape the climate conversation’.

Speakers emphasised the need for empathy to combat indifference towards climate change, and the possibility for a single person to make an impact.

Olam Group’s global head of corporate finance, Srinivasan Ventika Padmanabhan told the audience that empathy resides in every human being as does the capacity to take action. “We can create and make a change as long as we believe that we need to make a change,” he said.

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Michael Maniates, professor of social science and founding head of studies of Environmental Studies, Yale-NUS College, highlighted the power of just a small number of people getting together to think strategically, question the status quo and move social systems.

“Many students believe that nothing can happen until you have 60, 70, 80 per cent of people buying in to an idea. And that is a real prescription for cynicism and despair, because you never get that [realistically],” he said.

The now-widespread ban of sharks fin in Singapore was driven by the local diving community and is an example of how consumers can make a change, said Isabelle Louis, deputy regional director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office Asia Pacific.

She shared: “Singaporean divers spoke up and said to the supermarkets, ‘We want you to remove canned tuna that contains shark fin!’ and that made a great impact. The power of small can actually be big.”

Changing course for 2018

Riding on the momentum generated from the launch of the Changing Course exhibition, real estate developer City Developments Limited (CDL) that sponsored Cheam’s participation in the 2041 expedition announced the next edition of the  CDL E-Generation Challenge 2018. The winner of this year’s competition will travel to Raja Ampat in Indoesia with Dr Sylvia Earle, legendary deep-sea diver, marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, educator, author and founder of Mission Blue.

Eco-Business also unveiled a partnership with US-based adventure travel company The Explorer’s Passage on the ClimateForce 2019 expedition to the Arctic in June 2019. Eco-Business will be joining the expedition to film the sequel to From Asia to Antarctica, and help to select and support candidates in Asia who want to join the expedition.

“We are still in the midst of planning the Arctic expedition, and we hope to interest those who have a passion for climate issues to apply for this excellent opportunity to examine and learn about the situation there, and why what’s happening in the North and South Poles is important for Asia,” said Eco-Business’ Cheam.

The Singapore-based sustainability media organisation will also continue raising awareness about climate change through the Changing Course campaign. “Eco-Business will be organising further climate action activities for the rest of the year with our various partners, including talks and events around our focus topics—renewable energy, zero waste, sustainable lifestyles and youth,” she said.

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