Rujuta Parekar

Major: Psychology
Purdue School of Science
Supervisor: Dr. Tom Hummer
Department: Department of Psychiatry, IU School of Medicine

Relationship between IQ and Emotional Empathy in Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders

At the IU School of Medicine’s Media and Brain Development Lab, we focus on understanding the relationship between digital media and brain development. The study I am assisting with assesses if virtual reality could be used to improve social perspective taking in youth (9-12 years old) with disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs). Youth with DBDs typically have challenges with understanding different points of view, which can lead to problem behaviors like aggression and lack of empathy. My role in the lab is to analyze participant data, preview the virtual reality scenarios used in the study, provide feedback on virtual reality programs, and shadow professionals to understand the scientific research method. During study visits, participants complete surveys to characterize personality traits and cognitive abilities. For my project, I am examining the relationship between children’s IQ scores, which measure verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities, and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), which measures dispositional empathy. I am examining whether IQ scores are related to empathy and perspective-taking in children with DBDs. The results will help us understand the importance of cognitive abilities for our VR intervention and can help us tailor current treatment methods for DBDs to better fit the child’s needs.