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CONCERN FOR OTHERS: ORIGINS & DEVELOPMENT Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin - Madison.

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Presentation on theme: "CONCERN FOR OTHERS: ORIGINS & DEVELOPMENT Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin - Madison."— Presentation transcript:

1 CONCERN FOR OTHERS: ORIGINS & DEVELOPMENT Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin - Madison

2 THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS: ADAM SMITH 1757 Morality is not always calculating Morality is not always calculating Human beings are social creatures Human beings are social creatures Born with natural empathy Born with natural empathy Concern for well-being of others is an essential feature of morality Concern for well-being of others is an essential feature of morality Empathy- understand other’s perspective & have a visceral or emotional response Empathy- understand other’s perspective & have a visceral or emotional response

3 EARLY THEORIES: Children Lack Moral Sense before Age 7 Psychoanalytic Psychoanalytic Driven by sexual and aggressive impulses Driven by sexual and aggressive impulses Cognitive Cognitive Egocentric---immature cortex Egocentric---immature cortex Unaware of others’ perspectives Unaware of others’ perspectives Sociobiological Sociobiological Human social nature is self-serving Human social nature is self-serving

4 DIFFERENT VIEWS ‘LEGITIMIZE’ CONSTRUCT OF EMPATHY 1. Evolutionary altruism – E.O.Wilson emphasis on group process emphasis on group process 2. Empathy in mammals – Paul MacLean distress cries of offspring > maternal caregiving distress cries of offspring > maternal caregiving limbic & prefrontal cortex – interconnections limbic & prefrontal cortex – interconnections 3.Neuroscience – mirror neurons/emotional resonance wired to experience others emotions wired to experience others emotions

5 EMPATHY/CARING FOR OTHERS: CENTRAL ISSUES Biology Biology Development Development Environment Environment Nature and nurture interact Adaptive/Maladaptive Adaptive/Maladaptive

6 CONCERN FOR OTHERS A. AFFECT ---Empathic Emotions; (face, voice, gesture) B. BEHAVIOR ---Prosocial Actions (helps, shares, comforts) C.COGNITION --- Effort to Understand ( inquiries, ‘hypothesis-testing’) ( inquiries, ‘hypothesis-testing’)

7 BIOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF EMPATHY

8 Personal Distress 0-12 mos mos18 + mos Concern

9 0-12 mos mos18 + mos Personal Distress Concern ?

10 LONGITUDINAL SAMPLES: 1-7 YRS A. CONCERN FOR OTHERS (normative) NIMH – singletons Colorado – twins Wisconsin- twins B. CONCERN FOR OTHERS (risk) Parental depression Marital conflict

11 MULTIPLE METHODS: Home and Laboratory Mothers trained as observers Mothers trained as observers Natural distresses observed and caused by child Natural distresses observed and caused by child Structured probes---simulated distress Structured probes---simulated distress adults, peers, infants, animals adults, peers, infants, animals________________________________________ Maternal, teacher & child reports Maternal, teacher & child reports Natural observations in lab (sibs, peers) Natural observations in lab (sibs, peers) Mood inductions—physiological activity Mood inductions—physiological activity Narratives—children’s representations Narratives—children’s representations

12 JULIE, 18 mos JULIE, 18 mos A crying baby in a high chair threw away his cookies. Julie (1) tried to return his cookies. Mother then put baby in play pen and Julie hovered over him there. She began to (2) stroke his hair and (3) pat his shoulders making (4) sympathetic, cooing sounds. Next she went to (5) get her mother from another room. leading her to the play pen. Finally, she (6) took her mother’s hand and placed it on top of the baby’s head. She showed empathic concern throughout.

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19 NIMH : PROSOCIAL ACTS Zahn-Waxler et al. 1992

20 NIMH: EMPATHIC CONCERN NIMH: EMPATHIC CONCERN Zahn-Waxler et al. 1992

21 NIMH: ‘ HYPOTHESIS TESTING’ Zahn-Waxler et al. 1992

22 Development of Concern: Affective and Cognitive Forms Knafo, Zahn-Waxler, et al., 2008

23 Zahn-Waxler, et al. (2 samples) (1-2.5 yr olds) Zahn-Waxler, et al. (2 samples) (1-2.5 yr olds) Knafo, et al., 2008 (twin sample)(1-3 yr. olds) Knafo, et al., 2008 (twin sample)(1-3 yr. olds) Volbrecht, et al., 2007(1.5-2 yr. olds) Volbrecht, et al., 2007(1.5-2 yr. olds) What about individual differences? What about individual differences? Environment/parenting Environment/parenting Temperament Temperament Genes Genes DEVELOPMENTAL REPLICATIONS

24 High Empathy High warmth Low control Low warmth High control Medium Empathy High warmth Low control Positive family climate Low warmth High control Negative family climate Low Empathy Low Control High Control Empathy Parenting Practices Robinson et al mos 20 mos

25 High Empathy Medium Empathy Low Empathy Child Temperament 14 mos 20 mos High positivity, sociability, & negative affect Low positivity & sociability High positivity & sociability Low positivity & sociability High positivity & sociability Low positivity & sociability Robinson et al. 1994

26 CARING GROWS FROM 1-2 YEARS Roth-Hanania, Davidov, & Zahn-Waxler, 2011

27 INFANTS’ CONCERN FOR OTHERS

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35 CHILDREN of DEPRESSED MOTHERS: 2-4 yr olds Prosocial to Mother Zahn-Waxler & Radke-Yarrow

36 CONCERN FOR OTHERS: Toddlers’ response to parent conflict Cummings et al.

37 CONCLUSIONS Empathy is present in first years of life Empathy is present in first years of life Continuities/discontinuities across development Continuities/discontinuities across development Biological and environmental contributions to individual differences in children’s empathic concern and prosocial behavior Biological and environmental contributions to individual differences in children’s empathic concern and prosocial behavior Many ways in which concern for others may become compromised ---surfeits and deficits that interfere with the quality of children’s lives. Many ways in which concern for others may become compromised ---surfeits and deficits that interfere with the quality of children’s lives.

38 New Directions Basic research Basic research Neural underpinnings in first year of life Neural underpinnings in first year of life Developing literature on the social brain Developing literature on the social brain Interactions of parenting, genes, and epigenetic factors (Knafo, et al; Davidov, et al.) Interactions of parenting, genes, and epigenetic factors (Knafo, et al; Davidov, et al.) Early plasticity/malleability plus socialization lit. Early plasticity/malleability plus socialization lit. Opportune period of development for Opportune period of development for Interventions that incorporate positive socialization practices with mindfulness-based parenting Interventions that incorporate positive socialization practices with mindfulness-based parenting

39 Ronald IannottiCarol Van Hulle Paul Hastings Michelle VolbrechtSoo Rhee Dale Hay Michael ChapmanRobert King Hill Goldsmith Brett HaberstickSharee Light Shari Young Pamela ColeRonit Roth- Hanania Nathan Fox Mark CummingsMarian Radke-Yarrow Ariel Knafo Robert EmdeJoAnn Robinson Barbara Usher Elizabeth ShirtcliffMaayan Davidov COLLABORATORS

40 Thanks for Your Attention!


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