Parenting Style and Empathy in Youth: A Three-level Meta-Analysis

E.J.E. Heynen, Peer Van der Helm, W. Simon, Geert Jan Stams, Mark Assink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


A three-level meta-analysis was conducted to examine the association between parenting style (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful parenting) and empathy in youth. The overall effect size that was based on 65 effect sizes extracted from 14 studies with a total sample size of 2,504 participants, was r =. 17 (p <. 001), indicating a modest positive association between parenting style and empathy. Moderator analyses showed that only authoritative parenting was positively associated with empathy (r =. 23, p <. 001). The association between parenting and cognitive empathy (r =. 35, p <.001) and between parenting and affective empathy (r =. 24, p <.01) were both significant, whereas no significant association was found between parenting and empathy in general (r =. 09, n.s.). Further, a significant association between parenting and empathy was found for middle (r =. 16, p <.01) and high (r =. 19, p <.001) socio-economic status (SES) of the family but not for low family SES (r =. 03, n.s.). Assessment type of parenting style was a significant moderator, with only questionnaire assessments yielding a significant effect size (r =. 22, p <.001) in contrast to observations (r =. 03, n.s.) and composite measures (r =. 11, n.s.). Finally, somewhat larger effect sizes were found in studies that were more recently published. Regarding empathy in youth, it is concluded that the authoritative parenting style is the most successful at influencing empathy. However, the results of this meta-analysis should be considered preliminary.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmpathy versus Offending, Aggression and Bullying
Subtitle of host publicationAdvancing Knowledge using the Basic Empathy Scale
EditorsDarrick Jolliffe, David P. Farrington
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000366662
ISBN (Print)9780367253745
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021


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