Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 467–478 | Cite as

Differences in Empathy Between Offender and Nonoffender Youth

  • Connee A. Bush
  • Ronald L. Mullis
  • Ann K. Mullis


The purpose of this study was to examine differences in empathy between offender and nonoffender youth. Seventy-six male and 33 female juvenile offenders between the ages of 12 and 18 years and 33 male and 33 female nonoffenders between the ages of 15 and 19 years comprised the samples for this study. Measures of empathy, altruism, and social support were administered to all participants and then the participants were analyzed for status group differences. Only 1 dimension of empathy, emotional tone, was found to be significantly different based on group status. Gender differences were found for both status groups for another dimension of empathy, personal distress. Among offender and nonoffender youth, females yielded higher scores in personal distress than did males. Emotional tone and family structure were found to be the most predictive variables of offender status. Findings were discussed based on previous research and implications for interventions were addressed.


Social Support Gender Difference Predictive Variable Family Structure Status Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Connee A. Bush
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ronald L. Mullis
    • 3
  • Ann K. Mullis
    • 4
  1. 1.Florida Department of Juvenile JusticeBureau of Research and DataTallahassee
  2. 2.Department of Social and Health ServicesDivision of Vocational RehabilitationOlympia
  3. 3.Family and Child SciencesFlorida State UniversityTallahassee
  4. 4.Family and Child SciencesFlorida State UniversityTalahassee

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