American Sociological Association

Examining the Impact of a Domestic Violence Simulation on the Development of Empathy in Sociology Classes

Increasing empathy toward others is an unspoken goal of many sociology courses, but rarely do instructors measure changes in empathy throughout a semester. To address this gap in the literature, I use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data gathered before and after students from five sociology classes participated in a simulation on domestic violence. I systematically evaluate whether students’ levels of global empathy, empathetic responses toward victims, definitions of abuse, and propensity to agree with victim-blaming attitudes change after completing this experiential learning activity. Posttest results suggest a statistically significant but small increase in global empathy scores, a growth in empathetic responses toward victims, an expansion in students’ definitions of abuse, and greater disagreement with victim-blaming attitudes. I discuss ways sociology instructors can use this simulation as a tool to help students comprehend a difficult subject matter while simultaneously engendering empathy toward victims of abuse.


Latshaw, B. A.





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