Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Douglas Bock


This research project tests whether empathy has an affect upon ratings of speeches. First the rater' s individual level of empathy is surveyed. Next, the many different definitions of empathy are broken down into cognitive and affective perspectives and altruistic motivations. The likelihood of empathy being a dispositional or situational trait is discussed. Various methods used to train individuals to enhance their empathic skills through behavior observation and schools and how effective these methods have proven to be is identified. Empathy was then examined as to gender affects an individual's ability to experience that emotion. Using two different speeches, one that had high empathy and the other low empathy, the research compared the individual's empathy level to the speech rating score. Empathy had a significant impact on the speech scores such that the speech high in empathy, was rated higher on the overall score, material, and delivery category. Males rating low in empathy rated the language trait higher than men who scored low in empathy. Individuals scoring low in empathy rated the language scores higher than individuals who scored high in empathy.