Empathy, creativity, and conflict resolution in adolescents
Kyzer, Marcus Lee
MetadataShow full item record
A number of factors appear to contribute to an individual’s ability to successfully cope with and resolve life’s conflicts. Two of these factors are creativity and empathy. The purpose of this study is to examine the empathetic and creative characteristics of adolescents in relationship to the ways they cope with and resolve personal/interpersonal conflicts and adversity on a day-to-day basis. Three questions were generated to guide the progress of this study: 1. In what ways do empathy and creativity manifest themselves in the lives of adolescents? 2. How are empathy and creativity nurtured and developed in their lives? 3. How do adolescents use empathy and their creative strengths when resolving personal and interpersonal conflicts in their lives? To answer these questions, data was collected using standard qualitative methods for case study design, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and document review. Four categories emerged from the data, which represent the findings in this study. Category one, “emotional openness and receptivity,” describes the varying willingness or ability of participants to engage in sensitive, open emotional exchange with others. Category two, “creative expression of emotion” represents the use of expressive arts such as music, poetry, drama, and visual arts by participants as outlets for their emotions. Category three, “compassion and philanthropy,” explores participants’ empathy-related feelings toward others who were perceived as having some need, and their efforts, both planned and realized, to couple benefaction with these feelings. Finally, the fourth category, “safety of small, stable social groups,” characterizes important contextual elements that appear to have facilitated the development of participants’ empathy and their public, creative expression of that empathy. A close examination of these four categories are united under a single theoretical framework that presents creativity and empathy as tools for achieving individual and community wellness. The emerging theory is supported by a number of established theories including Adler’s striving for superiority and Maslow’s drive for self-actualization.