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Emotion Development Project with La Salle University

In October 2012, Ben Bousquet approached Arts Discovery with an opportunity to develop resource materials for understanding the emotional development of children and young adults. A psychology and philosophy major, Mr. Bousquet is part of a research team under the ongoing Emotion Development Research of Dr. Diana Montague, Professor of Psychology at La Salle University. Currently, the team is focusing on identifying patterns of empathy in youth.

The research team aims to create resource materials and make them available to the psychology community for further research. They will also share this research and resources with administrators, educators, and parents to gain a better understanding of how to encourage helping behaviors in children. Mr. Bousquet in particular is also very interested in using these resources to encourage empathy and to confront and prevent bullying.

Their interest in working with Arts Discovery lay in our ability to create realistic scenes of peer interaction, which could be filmed and then shared with others. Most scenes of peer-to-peer or group interaction are outdated and/or very scripted. The team hoped we would be able to bring together young artists and actors who could improvise in real moments, ones they had either witnessed or experienced. These would provide a valuable, engaging resource for scholars to study and for educators and parents to view with students.

In February 2013, members of the Young Ambassadors-- Meredith Rupp, Muriyyah Beard, Lexie Pyne, Nathaniel Brastow, AJ Williams, Deanna Drennen, Aidan Piombino-Mattis, AJ Williams, Mark Donohue, and Sam Goldman--worked with Wendy Bable, Dr. Montague, and Mr. Bousquet to begin the filming process. They discussed social interactions they had witnessed and experienced with their peers, which provided valuable insight for the research team. The Young Ambassadors then improvised various scenes and social interactions, which were filmed by Dr. Montague’s team. These videos will be shown to students as a way to begin a dialogue of understanding and recognizing emotions in others.