Empathy perception in social education students: an inter-institutional study Conference Paper uri icon


  • Affirming the profession of social educator, one who is best suited to mediate human relationships, requires an investment in training to improve the (inter)personal development of students, thereby contributing to a professional profile able to face the complex challenges of contemporary society. Research into developing empathy, a core variable in exercising of social-educational support functions, should be invested in by educational institutions. In this context, the aim of this study is to identify the students’ perceptions of empathy in two higher education institutions in Portugal and to see how they vary according to academic year, gender and age, in order to understand the implications for training and outline strategies to promote (inter)personal development. It is a non-experimental, cross-sectional study, for which the Portuguese adaptation (Limpo, Alves & Castro, 2010) of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI, Davis, 1980, 1983) was used to measure empathy. The convenience sample is non-probabilistic with 242 students participating. There were no statistically significant differences in the partial and overall results of the IRI according to age and the institution. However, there were statistically significant differences in the Empathic Concern subscale, by gender and academic year. We also assessed the influence of gender on the affective dimension and on the overall empathy scale. The results obtained are in line with most of the scientific literature on empathy and allows us to outline implications in terms of education
  • Center of Studies in Education, Technologies and Health (CI&DETS) of the Visey Polytecnhic Institute, Portugal.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017