Empathy-Related Responding and Its Relations to Socioemotional Development

Nancy Eisenberg
page. 1~17 / 2014 Vol.8 No.1


Empathy-related responding relates to a variety of socioemotional outcomes for children. However, for acoherent pattern to emerge, it has been important to differentiate among various empathy-relatedreactions, including empathy, concern, and personal distress. Sympathy, in particular, has beenassociated with higher levels of prosocial behavior, whereas personal distress reactions tend to benegatively or unrelated to prosocial behavior. Sympathy and empathy also have been positively relatedto children’s prosocial moral reasoning and socially competent behavior, and negatively related toexternalizing problems. Individual differences in self-regulation, as well as socialization experiences,also have been associated with children’s sympathy vs. personal distress responses.

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