Get access

The role of emotion regulation in situational empathy-related responding and prosocial behaviour in the presence of negative affect

Authors

  • Sascha Hein,

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences, College of Education, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Sascha Hein, Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences, College of Education, University of Houston, 3657 Cullen Blvd, Room 491, Houston, TX 77204-5029, USA. (E-mail: sdhein@central.uh.edu).

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Mandy Röder,

    1. Department of Education, Institute for Special Education, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael Fingerle

    1. Department of Education, Institute for Special Education, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This research was funded by the Hessian initiative for the development of scientific and economic excellence (LOEWE). SH designed the study, collected and analysed the data, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. MR designed the study, analysed the data, and contributed to the writing of the manuscript. MF contributed to the interpretation and discussion of the study findings.

Abstract

Empathy and prosocial behaviour are crucial factors for children's positive social adjustment. Contemporary models of empathy highlight the capacity to regulate vicariously experienced emotions as a precursor to empathy-related responses (e.g., prosocial behaviour). The goal of this study was to examine the role of emotion regulation (ER) in situational empathy-related responding and prosocial behaviour. A sample of 157 children (76 boys and 81 girls; Mage = 9.94 years) participated in a two-tiered interview procedure that utilised vignettes to assess empathy and prosocial behaviour. Between both phases of the interview, a negative affect was induced to investigate the influence of ER on the change between the two phases. Results from a latent change model showed that ER strategies positively predicted change scores, that is, children with higher abilities to regulate emotions showed a higher increase in empathy and prosocial behaviour. Implications for the promotion of social-emotional learning in school are discussed.

Ancillary