Moral, Social, and Socialization Correlates
We have been studying, to some degree or another, empathy-related responding for 25 years. Initially, our interest in empathy was based on its purported role in moral development, especially prosocial behavior. Later, based on what we had learned in the first decade of research, we viewed it in a larger context—as a capacity related to social competence more broadly and in the context of children's developing capacity for regulating their emotions, including vicariously induced emotion. In addition, because of our interest in the socialization of both moral behavior and emotional responding, our research program has included the assessment of parental characteristics and behaviors related to empathy-related responding.
In this chapter, we provide an overview of our program of research on empathy-related responding in the context of some other related work. In our view, empathy-related responding, especially sympathy, is the basis of much prosocial interpersonal behavior. We start with a discussion of definitions and critical concepts, then examine the relation of empathy-related responding to prosocial behavior and the possible role of empathy in the continuity of prosocial behavior over time. We also touch briefly on the relations of empathy-related responding to social competence, aggression, and prosocial moral reasoning. Next, we discuss the socialization of