Dispositional empathic concern, gender, level of experience, teacher efficacy, attributions of controllability and teacher affect

Meredith Anne Panik, Fordham University


Teachers' pity and anger responses to students who fail often are interpreted by the students as indicative of the teachers' attributions for the cause behind the student failure. Students' interpretations of these emotional responses can affect their self-esteem and expectations for future success. The present study explored variables that may predict teacher anger and pity responses to students who fail. Gender, dispositional empathic concern, level of experience, and teacher efficacy were measured and examined in relation to pity and anger responses. Attributions of controllability (i.e., effort and ability attributions) were manipulated through the use of four failure vignettes. Following the administration of each failure vignette, teachers rated their pity and anger reaction. Two hundred and eight elementary school teachers completed a series of questionnaires measuring dispositional empathic concern, teacher efficacy, and demographic variables. Additionally, the teachers read four failure vignettes that varied systematically on degree of effort and ability put forth by the student in each vignette. Teachers then rated their pity and anger reactions to the failure following each vignette. Findings revealed that gender and dispositional empathic concern predicted teacher ratings of pity; teacher efficacy predicted teacher ratings of anger. Female teachers and teachers with higher dispositional empathic concern tended to respond with more pity. Teachers with high efficacy tended to respond with less anger. Teachers also tended to respond with greater pity when failure was attributed to low ability and high effort; with greater anger when failure was attributed to low effort. The results of this study are discussed within the context of educational and social psychological theories and implications for research and practice are provided.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Panik, Meredith Anne, "Dispositional empathic concern, gender, level of experience, teacher efficacy, attributions of controllability and teacher affect" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3420961.