To explore a continuum model of empathy, 88 children in grades one, three, and five were interviewed about their emotional experiences to Crying to Laugh, a Quebecois play designed to demonstrate emotional expression. Girls and older children empathized and sympathized by feeling and thinking from female characters' perspectives more than boys and younger children. Boys distanced themselves more than girls by focusing on their personal desires and expectations. Theatrical signs of presentational plays may interfere with empathy by distracting young children from identifying intended themes.
This reception study received an Honorable Mention for the Research Award of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, August 1994.
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