Previous research has shown that some educational media for preschoolers (such as Sesame Street) can have a positive impact on preschool viewers’ cognitive, learning, and socio-emotional outcomes (Mares & Pan, 2013). However, the effects of the educational media on children’s empathy has not been investigated. Given that media shows positive outcomes in a children’s development, which is likely to include empathy. Empathy is the ability to respond affectively to emotions in others, aiming at reacting adaptively to another’s need (Rieffe, et al., 2010). Cognitive empathy, or perspective taking, is associated with higher cognitive performance such as memory (Wagner, Handke, & Walter, 2015).

Using some educational video clips, the immediate effect of the video on preschoolers’ (3-5 years) mental processing was investigated. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups, and they were observed for behavioral indices of empathy (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral).

It was hypothesized that educational media positively influenced participants cognitive empathy and prosocial behavior. Furthermore, it was predicted that empathy questionnaire, which asked the extent of preschoolers’ daily exposure to educational media, would show correlation with cognitive empathy and prosocial behavior. Lastly, based on previously investigated facts, it was predicted that educational media would be more influential in female’s prosocial behavior than boys. Overall, this study found no significant association between educational TV viewing and the three types of empathy. However, the analysis of parental surveys found that children’s TV exposure was significantly associated with their prosocial behavior but not with their affective and cognitive empathy, which suggests that educational TV program might enhance viewers’ egoistic motivation for prosocial behavior.


Thelamour, Barbara




Developmental Psychology


Empathy, Education, Sesame Street

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Shogo Hayashi