Concern for Others in the First Year of Life: Theory, Evidence, and Avenues for Research

Maayan Davidov*, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ronit Roth-Hanania, Ariel Knafo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations

Abstract

Concern for others has been thought to emerge in the 2nd year of life (Hoffman, , , ). Three related ideas underlying this view assume that younger infants cannot distinguish between self and other, cannot experience concern for others, and show self-distress because they misinterpret others' distress as their own. In this article, we review evidence contradicting these assumptions and propose an alternative view of early empathy development. Specifically, we argue that empathic concern does not depend on self-reflective abilities and exists during the 1st year of life, manifesting young infants' fundamental social nature. We also touch on avenues for research.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-131
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Concern for others
  • Early development
  • Empathy
  • Infancy

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