What does your lab study?
Researchers in our lab are studying empathy as a risk and protective factor for depression and anxiety in children, especially within the context of parent-child interactions. Our work aims to develop an empirical conceptualization of empathy and identify correlates of negative empathy and positive empathy across childhood. We use diverse methodology to study empathy and its correlates across behavioral, physiological, and neural units of analysis
What do children enjoy most about the research?
Families who participate in our studies enjoy study exercises in which children and families reminisce about their shared emotional experiences. They enjoy learning about how family members experienced difficult and happy family events.
What are things families might do at home to improve children's learning?
We don’t study learning, but here are tips for things parents can do to help children be more empathic:
1. Behave in caring and affectionate ways toward their children to provides examples of how to act empathically and strengthen positive parent-child relationships so children are receptive to parents’ examples.
2. Respond to their children’s emotions with contingent responses, like comforting a child’s crying and laughing with a child’s laughter.
3. Explain what they feel during emotional parent-child interactions the impact of the child’s behavior on others’ feelings. It is important to be warm and accepting rather than harsh or dismissive during these discussions.