The Teaching of Empathy for High School and College Students: Testing Rogerian Methods with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1994


The teachability of empathy is discussed with particular regard to developmental issues. One hundred and four high school and college students were administered Davis's (1980) Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) both before and after a standard course of Rogerian-based peer facilitation skills training. The IRI offers four independent subscales which measure the cognitive and affective components of empathy. Statistically significant findings indicate greater developmental readiness for learning empathic communication in the college sample, particularly for subscales measuring Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking. A group of untrained college students taking a course in behavioral psychology showed no progress on any IRI subscales. Although college females began with higher empathy scores, both genders were equally teachable. Implications for prevention and counseling readiness are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Adolescence, v. 29, issue 116, p. 961-974