Genetics, Parenting, and Moral Development

Dana Vertsberger, Salomon Israel, Ariel Knafo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter reviews findings regarding genetic and parental influences on moral development, and is organized according to three morally relevant components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The cognitive component refers to the conceptualization of right and wrong, and specifically moral reasoning and values. The affective component refers to feelings related to reactions to social situations and evaluations of chosen actions, focusing on emotions such as empathy, guilt, and pride. The behavioral component refers to the way individuals choose to behave, and specifically to prosocial behavior. We review relevant quantitative and molecular genetic designs, and particularly four neurobiological systems: the dopaminergic system, the oxytocinergic and vasopressinergic systems, and the serotonergic system, which have been found to be associated with moral development. In addition, we review parents’ influences on moral development, in the context of gene-environment interactions and correlations.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Parenting and Moral Development
EditorsDeborah J. Laible, Gustavo Carlo, Laura M. Padilla-Walker
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190638696
StatePublished - 2019


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