Relationship between the theory of mind and empathy in students with hearing impairment and those with normal hearing
Background and Aim: Empathy is a basic human skill that is important in daily life. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of the theory of mind in predicting empathy.
Methods: This study adopted a causal-comparative design. 40 students with profound hearing impairment and 40 students with normal hearing, aged between 8 and 14, participated in the study. Instruments including false belief tasks and empathy questionnaires were distributed to the participants. For multivariate analysis of variance, a correlation analysis and multiple regression methods were used.
Results: Results indicated a significant difference between the total score of false belief tasks and empathy in students with hearing impairment and those with normal hearing (p<0.001). A significant relationship between the theory of mind and empathy was found in both groups (p<0.01). Also theory of mind could predict the empathy (p=0.001).
Conclusion: Based on the obtained results, significant reduction in the theory of mind and empathy was seen in students with hearing impairment. Therefore, training programs that focus on social skills are required for students with hearing impairment in order to address this problem. Moreover, training materials need to be tailored to their cognitive understanding.
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