Thesis Title

Enhancement of Empathy Among Elementary School Children of Varying Cultural Backgrounds

Graduation Date

Fall 2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Myers Harrison, PsyD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Musunuri Durgamohan


This pilot study investigates the influence of cultural empathy as a way to address the problems caused by multiculturalism. By applying an art intervention, the collective portrait, it is hypothesized that empathy levels will increase and help establish a collective identity. The instruments used (Feeling & Thinking and Read the Mind in the Eyes Test) give us two different perspectives from which to evaluate empathy: the recognition of emotion in oneself and the recognition of emotions in others, through their facial expressions. In this study 18 children, between ages 8 and 11, were recruited from a South Bay school district. Only 12 children completed the tests. Given the small sample size, the results of this study are not statistically significant. However, this study highlights important recommendations regarding the appropriateness of the instruments, methods and materials to be used in a follow up study.