Empathic accuracy of young boys and girls in ongoing parent–child interactions: Performance and (mis)perception

Wang Ivy WONG, Wai Bong Patrick TSUI, Tik Sze Carrey SIU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Understanding others accurately is crucial in relationships and learning. Research shows that adults face challenges in empathic accuracy, that is, the ability to read the content of others’ moment-to-moment mental states during interactions. Although young children possess some empathic understanding, the extent of their empathic accuracy is uncharted. Using a new SSP, 106 Chinese children aged 60 to 80 months (M = 70 months) were assessed on their ability to infer the mental states of adults in ongoing parent–child interactions. Replicating and extending extant findings on adults and adolescents, the children’s inferences were found to be, at least computationally on a scale of .00 to 1.00, more often inaccurate than accurate regardless of the gender of the targets or participants (overall accuracy rate = .28). However, both the children and their primary caregivers overestimated the children’s performance. In addition, although the primary caregivers expected girls to outperform boys, no gender difference in empathic accuracy was found when controlling for verbal fluency. Drawing on the findings of this first-ever application of the empathic accuracy paradigm in young children, the implications of empathic accuracy performance and misperceptions about such accuracy are discussed. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105042
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume203
Early online date07 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Citation

Wong, W. I., Tsui, W. B. P., & Siu, T.-S. C. (2021). Empathic accuracy of young boys and girls in ongoing parent–child interactions: Performance and (mis)perception. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 203. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2020.105042

Keywords

  • Interpersonal interaction
  • Performance estimation
  • Social cognition
  • Gender
  • Empathic accuracy
  • Parent and child

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