Cultivating Youth's Empathy through Parental Involvement: Experimental Evidence from China

Last registered on January 22, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Cultivating Youth's Empathy through Parental Involvement: Experimental Evidence from China
Initial registration date
January 22, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 22, 2021, 2:32 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

RIEM,Southwestern University of Finance and Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
RIEM, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
PI Affiliation
Rice University
PI Affiliation
Rice University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Low empathy becomes prevalent and it is associated with bad peer relationships, such as alienation and even bullying behaviors in the school. Utilizing the context of two large middle schools in urban China, we first design survey instruments to elicit students’ empathy skills, bullying tendency and depression tendency. We further design a novel psychological intervention that is cost effective to improve students’ empathy skills with their parents. The intervention mainly composes of a series of parent-child activities that are daily based. We expect a reasonable take-up rate by parents and, through improving empathy and parent-child relationship, the students become more socially desirable in the class.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cunha, Flavio et al. 2021. "Cultivating Youth's Empathy through Parental Involvement: Experimental Evidence from China." AEA RCT Registry. January 22.
Experimental Details


In the treatment arm, parents will receive monthly task notifications to be completed with students. The tasks include a series of parent-child activities on empathy and prosociality related topics. The tasks will last for 4 months. Each task will take no longer than 3 hours.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Empathy measure, Mental health, Classroom environment, Bullying behaviors, Prosocial behaviors
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Empathy measure includes perspective thinking and empathetic concern; we use CES-D to measure mental health and depression; students' evaluation of the classroom environment; we use self-reported and cross-reported bullying behaviors

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Prosocial behaviors, Test scores, Task completion status, Time spent with parents, and Bullying and empathy knowledge
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The targeted population of this study is middle school students (7th-8th grade) and their parents in 2 middle schools in China. We collect baseline survey data to understand the prior knowledge about empathy and bully among students and their parents. Surveys will be delivered via online questionnaires. We then randomly assign half of the classes of students into treatment and the other half into control groups. After the 4-month intervention, we will collect the end-of-semester survey to all the students and parents.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
By a computer using Microsoft Excel
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
48 classes
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,200 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
24 classes (1,100 students and their parents) control, 24 classes (1,100 students and their parents) treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committee of RIEM at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials