Dispositional empathy and perceived caregiver-child interaction in early childhood care and education: Examining the moderator ef-fects of age and personality
Although research have established the relationship between dispositional empathy and caregiver-child interactions, the influences of the different dimensions of dispositional empathy have not been adequately explored among caregivers in the early childhood care and education setting. In this study, we examined how empathic dispositions of caregivers in early childhood care and education in Ghana influenced their beliefs and intentions about their interactions with children in their care. We tested the assumption that age and personality moderated the relationship between caregivers’ dispositional empathy and their perceived interactions with the children. We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 154 early childcare education teachers in Accra, the capital of Ghana, with ages ranging from 19 to 68 years using Wilcox-Herzog and Ward’s (2004) four aspects of caregiver-child interaction. We found empathic concern and personal distress effects on perceived caregiver-child interaction. Empathic concern is the strongest predictor of caregivers’ perceived interaction with the children. We also found a moderated effect for neuroticism on the relationship between dispositional empathy and perceived caregiver-child interaction. The implications of the findings are discussed in the context of culture and early childhood care.