Title

Empathy and Narcissism as Predictors of Child Abuse

Presenter Information

Bridget O'Connell
Peter Kowalski

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Research indicates that parents who were themselves abused as children are at increased risk of abusing their own children. However, not all of those abused as children go on to abuse their own children. Perhaps retaining a capacity for empathy and avoiding narcissism function as protective factors. This study proposes that (a) parents abused as children are more likely to exhibit low levels of child-directed empathy and high levels of narcissism than do non-abused parents, and (b) parents abused as children who, do not exhibit low levels of empathy and high levels of narcissism are less likely to engage in child abuse. Archival evaluation records of at-risk parents? psychological functioning and parental competence will be examined and coded for parent?s abuse history and parent perpetration of child abuse. A sample of 25-30 parents who report their own childhood abuse and 25-30 parents who report no childhood abuse will be identified for this study. Capacity for empathy will be assessed using the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). The PAI was designed to provide information about psychopathology. Narcissism will be measured using Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. The MMPI-2 is used by professionals to assess and diagnose mental illness. Using analyses of variance, on both the PAI and MMPI-2 will be used to compare parents with abuse histories to those without abuse histories. If the hypotheses are supported, this suggests that we may be able to assist families by offering services that promote increased empathy in abusive parents, and, using these criteria to better assess people at risk of perpetration.

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Apr 13th, 3:00 PM Apr 13th, 4:00 PM

Empathy and Narcissism as Predictors of Child Abuse

UC Ballroom

Research indicates that parents who were themselves abused as children are at increased risk of abusing their own children. However, not all of those abused as children go on to abuse their own children. Perhaps retaining a capacity for empathy and avoiding narcissism function as protective factors. This study proposes that (a) parents abused as children are more likely to exhibit low levels of child-directed empathy and high levels of narcissism than do non-abused parents, and (b) parents abused as children who, do not exhibit low levels of empathy and high levels of narcissism are less likely to engage in child abuse. Archival evaluation records of at-risk parents? psychological functioning and parental competence will be examined and coded for parent?s abuse history and parent perpetration of child abuse. A sample of 25-30 parents who report their own childhood abuse and 25-30 parents who report no childhood abuse will be identified for this study. Capacity for empathy will be assessed using the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). The PAI was designed to provide information about psychopathology. Narcissism will be measured using Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. The MMPI-2 is used by professionals to assess and diagnose mental illness. Using analyses of variance, on both the PAI and MMPI-2 will be used to compare parents with abuse histories to those without abuse histories. If the hypotheses are supported, this suggests that we may be able to assist families by offering services that promote increased empathy in abusive parents, and, using these criteria to better assess people at risk of perpetration.