MATERNAL EMPATHY: ANTECEDENTS AND CONSEQUENCES (OBJECT REPRESENTATIONS, RELATIONS, EGO DEVELOPMENT, BABY)
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The psychological determinants of mothers' capacity for empathy with their children were studied. It was hypothesized that capacity for empathy would be positively related to level of object representations and ego development achieved. While it was the purpose of this study to explore these hypotheses, it was also the purpose to establish the validity of the empathy measures employed.;To examine the two hypotheses under study, as well as the validity of the empathy measures, the following procedures were used. Twenty-four mother-child pairs were observed in two nursery settings and rated by the present researcher and the head of each nursery on scales constructed by the present researcher to assess mothers' empathy, mothers' object relatedness, and babies' adjustment. In addition, visits were made to the homes of each mother-child pair to assess quality of the home environment on a standardized instrument, as a possible way to measure mothers' empathy. Further, during the home visits, a projective test was administered to assess mothers' object representations, and standardized questionnaires designed to tap mothers' ego development and empathy, were given.;After these procedures were followed, data were analyzed for interscorer reliability on measures that required judgments by two raters; correlation coefficients were found consistently to be significantly positive. The data also analyzed for validity of the empathy measures. Both convergent validity, and predictive validity insofar as the empathy measures correlated positively with measures of babies' adjustment, were found for most empathy measures. With regard to the hypotheses under study, a significantly positive relationship was found between most measures of object representations and most measures of empathy, while a significant relationship was not found between ego development and various measures of empathy.;Post hoc analyses, designed to elucidate the relationships among object representations, ego development, and baby variables, revealed a significantly positive relationship between object representations and baby development. Thus, the study has demonstrated a positive relationship between object representations, empathy, and baby development, in turn.;Finally, certain measures of empathy, object representations, and baby development emerged as being the most fruitful indicators of their respective constructs.
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