An Experimental Study of the Development of Empathy and Prosocial Behavior among Preschool Children

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Özbal G. Ö., Gönen M.

Egitim ve Bilim, vol.48, no.215, pp.1-30, 2023 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48 Issue: 215
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.15390/eb.2023.11103
  • Journal Name: Egitim ve Bilim
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, EBSCO Education Source, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-30
  • Keywords: Empathy, Helping, Preschool, Prosocial behavior, Sharing
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This study examined the development of empathy and prosocial behaviors (helping and sharing) among preschool children who had attended an empathy training program. A semi-experimental design with pre-test-post-test control groups was employed. The sample comprised 39 children aged 5 years, of whom 20 and 19 were in the experimental and control groups, respectively. Appropriate sampling methods were used for sample selection. The groups comprised children from two different kindergartens in two different primary schools affiliated with the Ministry of National Education (MONE). The training program was prepared by the researcher and 100 integrated activities were created to ensure the empathic and prosocial development of the children. The activities included helping and sharing, as well as other prosocial skills such as cooperation and waiting in line, along with empathy skills. The program was conducted by the researcher for children in the experimental group, four days a week, for nine weeks. Two methods of evaluation were used to assess the empathy and prosocial behaviors of the experimental and control groups. To measure the children's empathy skills, “the Empathy Scale for Children” was used in the pre- and post-tests. If the children identified the feelings of the main character correctly, they scored 1 point. If they identified it incorrectly or left the question unanswered, they scored 0. A high score indicated a high level of empathy. In the evaluation of prosocial behaviors, observation, a method of evaluation in the literature, was preferred. In this method, the researcher demonstrated certain behaviors, and the children's reactions were noted and analyzed. Eventually their helping and sharing behaviors were analyzed. It was found that the training program improved the empathic and prosocial behaviors of the children in the experimental group. However, the control group, which was not trained in terms of empathic and prosocial behavior, fell short of expectations around helping skills and an improvement around sharing skills. Recommendations were proposed for teachers to organize systematic and planned trainings in order to improve the empathic and prosocial behaviors of preschool children, implement activities that help develop empathic and prosocial behaviors, and analyze the development of helping and sharing behaviors in the natural development processes of children.