Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

James Steven Patterson

Thesis Professor Department

Social Work

Thesis Reader(s)

Kenneth L. Fullam


Robert Kennedy once said, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” This statement inspired the author to question how prosocial behavior and the acceptance of diversity can be encouraged and is the driving force behind the following undergraduate thesis. Research tells us that Theory of Mind (ToM) and Affective Perspective Taking (APT) are essential components in a stepwise progression to learning empathy and can be taught to children ages five to seven. These elements are essential to developing an empathetic foundation that leads to healthier relationships, reduces bullying, and encourages the acceptance of diversity. Teaching children about emotions helps expand their vocabulary and put a name on what they or someone else is feeling. This facilitation of language and literacy is another building block in the development of compassionate understanding and empathy. Research shows that works of fiction can help children increase their ability to recognize emotions and encourages empathetic development through examination of a story character’s feelings.

The culmination of this undergraduate thesis project is a children’s book called The Day Dot Ran Away. The research-informed book is designed to teach perspective taking by encouraging the reader to pay special attention to the emotions on the faces of the characters. The author’s hope is that this book will sow the seeds of empathy in all who read it, and as a result, they will become empathetic adults who are more accepting of diversity.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Social Work Commons