Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Erin C. Tully


Little is known about the association between empathic and prosocial tendencies (caring) and internalizing psychopathology in young children. Associations between caring and internalizing problems (INT) were examined in young children (N = 63). Children’s caring was measured using a developmentally appropriate story narrative task about mothers in distress; narratives were rated for themes of caring. No general associations between caring and INT were found. A marginally significant, negative quadratic relation between themes of empathy and INT was found in boys (low levels of INT were related to both high and low levels of empathy). Children’s concern reactions were marginally, negatively associated with INT in children of nondepressed mothers. Overall, findings indicate that associations between caring and INT in preschool-aged children are present only under specific conditions, highlighting the importance of gender and maternal psychopathology in elucidating the role of caring in complicated risk cascades that may result in INT .