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Empathy and Morality$
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Heidi L. Maibom

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969470.001.0001

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Empathy and Morality

Empathy and Morality

A Developmental Psychology Perspective

(p.59) 3 Empathy and Morality
Empathy and Morality

Tracy L. Spinrad

Nancy Eisenberg

Oxford University Press

The construct of empathy-related responding has been an important topic in developmental psychology; moreover, empathy-related responding is considered of relevance to moral development and moral behavior in multiple disciplines. Findings regarding the relations of empathy-related responding (i.e. empathy, sympathy, personal distress) to moral behavior are reviewed. It is argued that inconsistencies in findings are partly due to lack of differentiation in terms of empathy-related responses. In addition, literature pertaining to the development of children’s empathy and moral behavior is reveiwed. The relations of empathy-related responding to other aspects of children’s competence and maladjustment also are discussed, as are relations of children’s dispositional characteristics (especially self-regulation) to their empathy-related responding and moral behavior. The literature as a whole is consistent with the view that sympathetic concern (and sometimes empathy) are associated with children’s moral behavior, moral judgment, low levels of aggression/externalizing problems, and socially competent behavior.

Keywords:   empathy-related responding, moral behavior, empathy, sympathy, personal distress

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