Like adults, children experience less empathy toward some groups compared with others. In this investigation, we propose that mothers differ in how much empathy they want their children to feel toward specific outgroups, depending on their political ideology. We suggest that how mothers want their children to feel (i.e., the motivation for their child’s empathy), in turn, is correlated with children’s actual experience of empathy toward the outgroup. Across four studies in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (NTotal = 734), the degree of empathy mothers wanted their children to experience in the intergroup context varied as a function of their political ideology. Mothers’ motivation for their child’s empathy toward the outgroup (but not in general) was further associated with how they chose to communicate messages to their children in a real-life context and how children actually felt toward the outgroup. We discuss implications for the socialization of intergroup empathy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the European Research Council under Grant 335607 (to Eran Halperin) and the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development under Grant I-1435-105.4/2017 (to E.H. and M.R.T.).
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
- children in conflict
- emotion socialization
- motivated intergroup empathy
- political ideology