Promoting the Development of Prosocial Emotions Via a Home-Based Intervention
Prosocial emotions (e.g., empathy, guilt) promote positive interpersonal relations, helping, and caring (Kochanska, 1997). Children with conduct problems (CP) and co-occurring callous-unemotional (CU) traits are defined by a lack of prosocial emotions and long-term negative outcomes (McMahon et al., 2010; Waller et al., 2019). Treatments for CP are less effective when children also have CU traits, and therefore should be modified to target the specific prosocial emotion deficits associated with CU traits. Other limitations to treatment include time and resource commitments that deter families. The current study addresses these limitations by testing an at-home, board game intervention to promote the development of prosocial emotions in children. In our sample (N=46), children were randomly assigned to the board game or control condition. The parent-child dyad played the board game 4 times over a 6-week period. While we hypothesized that children in the board game condition would show reductions in CP and CU traits, as well as increases in empathy and prosocial behavior, we did not see significant differences on these measures at follow up. As the sample size was limited, as well as the level of variability in CU traits, future research is being planned to address limitations.