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Laryngoscope. 2013 Feb;123(2):518-23. doi: 10.1002/lary.23544. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Social competence and empathy in young children with cochlear implants and with normal hearing.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. lketelaar@fsw.leidenuniv.nl



To examine the levels of social competence and empathic behavior in children with cochlear implants in comparison with normal-hearing children, and to determine whether empathy predicts social competence to the same extent in both groups of children.


Retrospective cohort study.


A total of 150 children (mean age 39 months) participated in the study; 61 with cochlear implants and 89 without hearing loss. Parent reports and observation measures were employed to measure empathy and social competence.


Levels of empathy and social competence in children with cochlear implants and normal-hearing children were similar. Empathic behaviors were predictive of social competence in both groups alike. Emotion acknowledgment was more predictive of social competence for children with cochlear implants than for normal-hearing children. Language skills were unrelated to social competence or empathic behaviors in children with cochlear implants.


Children with cochlear implants showed no delay concerning social competence or empathic behavior. The factors contributing to social competence, however, differed between the groups. This should be kept in mind when developing rehabilitation programs for children with cochlear implants.

Copyright © 2012 The American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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