Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Peggy J. Cantrell

Committee Members

Jon B. Ellis, K. Ramsey McGowan


The current study examined the empathic attainment of young children (mean age 7 years) as a function of the child's socioeconomic status. Further, the potential intervening variable of violent media representations within product advertisements is assessed within and between the observed socioeconomic status groups. Three critical dimensions of empathy were assessed: cognitive, affective and behavioral. Participants were 200 volunteers recruited from public and private schools in a small region in southern Appalachia. Respondents were rated on their response to animated video clips depicting an individual in emotional distress. Results suggest that media exposure has significant effect on measures of affective empathy and prosocial behavior with lower scores being obtained by children after viewing an action oriented commercial as opposed to a prosocial commercial message prior to the presentation of the target vignette. The degree to which the media presentation affected empathic responding was found to be associated with participants' socioeconomic status.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Psychology Commons