Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Paul Bueno de Mesquita


Universal classroom-based social skills and violence prevention training is currently a topic of widespread interest. Although there is a growing body of empirical support for some existing social skills programs, less is known about contributions of specific program components to intervention outcomes. Empathy training is one common component of social skills curricula that has been subject to relatively little research. The current study is a single-school quasi-experimental investigation of Second Step empathy training effects on 57 first- and fourth-graders. Dependent variables included self-reported empathy, teacher-reported social skills, teacher-reported problem behaviors, and fourth-graders' self-reported social skills. The study also explored teachers' use of social emotional teaching strategies, assessed with a brief self-report frequency measure, and their perceptions of program effects and procedures, solicited in follow-up interviews. Results suggest that intervention and comparison students, as a group, did not differ in pre-post effects on quantitative measures of empathy, social skills, or problem behaviors. However, additional exploratory analyses suggest that first grade intervention students may have maintained pre-intervention levels of teacher-reported social skills, while first grade comparison students declined. Intervention teachers reported an increase in use of social-emotional teaching strategies and positive perceptions of program effects and procedures. Strengths and limitations of the study as well as implications for future research and practice are discussed.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.