Roots of Empathy increases prosocial behaviour, which leads to better relationships

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Experts say:

Prosocial behaviours such as sharing, helping, including, and cooperating, play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships (Laible et al., 2004). These behaviours help to promote positive development in children, by improving the quality of their relationships, and through fostering positive and safe classroom and home atmospheres (Lee et al., 2001). Interpersonal relationships are essential for mental health and can help shield children from the negative effects of stress (Hartup & Stevens, 1997; Bagwell et al., 1998).

Evidence Roots of Empathy increases prosocial behaviour:

      • Within the school year, teacher ratings showed an increase in prosocial behaviours in Roots of Empathy children (ex: comforting a child who is crying or upset, offering to help other children who are having difficulty, inviting others to play) (Santos et al., 2011)
  • Children in the Roots of Empathy program showed in increase in prosocial behaviours, such as sharing, cooperation, helping, kindness, taking others’ view, and fairness (Schonert-Reichl et al., 2012)
  • All participants reported an increase in prosocial behaviours (ex: helping, sharing) in children within the Roots ofEmpathy classrooms (Cain & Carnellor, 2008)
  • Teacher ratings showed children who participated in the program to be more prosocial (Connolly et al., 2018)

Back to The Roots of Longevity & Quality of Life

What can Roots of Empathy teach the world? “When someone is not feeling good you will know or you will ask.” Speech Bubble: Empathy, “Are you ok?”, “no”; “I’m hungry”, “Here”, “Thank you.” Year 4, Wales



Bagwell, C. L., Newcomb, A. F., and Bukowski, W. M. (1998). Preadolescent Friendship and Peer Rejection as Predictors of Adult Adjustment. Child Development, 69, 140–153

Cain, G., & Carnellor, Y (2008). Roots of Empathy: A research study on its impact on teachers in Western Australia. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 2(1), 52-73.

Connolly, P., Miller, S., Kee, F., Sloan, S., Gildea, A., McIntosh, E., & Bland, J. M. (2018). A cluster randomised controlled trial and evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis of the Roots of Empathy schools-based programme for improving social and emotional well-being outcomes among 8-to 9-year-olds in Northern Ireland. Public Health Research.

Hartup, W. W., and Stevens, N. (1997). Friendships and adaptation in the life course. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 355–370.

Santos, R.G., Chartier, M.J., Whalen, J.C., Chateau, D., & Boyd, L. (2011). Effectiveness of school-based violence prevention for children and youth: Cluster randomized controlled field trial of the Roots of Empathy program with replication and three-year follow-up. Healthcare Quarterly, 14, 80-90.

Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Smith, V., Zaidman-Zait, A., & Hertzman, C. (2012). Promoting children’s prosocial behaviours in school: Impact of the “Roots of Empathy” program on the social and emotional competence of school-aged children. School Mental Health 4(1), 1-12.