Empathy development from 8 to 16 months: early signs of concern for others.
ABSTRACT The study examined the responses of typically developing infants to the distress of another, prior to and following the transition to the second year. Infants' responses to maternal simulations of distress and to a peer distress videotape were observed from 8 to 16 months, using an accelerated longitudinal design (overall n = 37). Modest levels of affective and cognitive empathy for another in distress were already evident before the second year, and increased gradually (and not always significantly) across the transition to the second year. Prosocial behavior was rare in the first year and increased substantially during the second year. Self-distress reactions were rare overall. Individual differences in cognitive and affective empathy assessed in the first year, particularly at 10-months, predicted the levels of prosocial behavior observed in the second year. No gender differences were found. Theoretical implications and future research directions are discussed.
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ABSTRACT: Prosocial behavior first appears in the second year of life. How can prosociality so early in life be explained? One possibility is that infants possess specialized cognitive and/or social capacities that drive its emergence. A second possibility is that prosocial behavior emerges out of infants' shared activities and relationships with others. These possibilities have motivated a number of current explanatory efforts, with a focus on two complementary questions. First, what is evolutionarily prepared in the very young child and how does it give rise to prosocial behavior? Second, how do proximal mechanisms, including social experiences, contribute to the early development of prosociality? The papers in this special issue represent some of the most recent work on these questions. They highlight a diverse array of new methods and bring them to bear on the nature and development of early prosocial understanding and behavior.Infancy 01/2013; 18(1). · 1.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Early prosocial development has become a topic of great interest in recent years as experimental studies have provided evidence that instances of prosocial action can already be found in the second year of life. In this contribution, we review the recent literature on young children's production of prosocial actions, in particular helping, sharing, and comforting, and their understanding of others' prosocial behavior. We summarize the novel insights gained by recent studies and point to directions for future studies. Overall, we suggest that while the field consists of considerable knowledge about the developmental timeline of prosocial behavior, more research is needed to examine and better understand underlying social-cognitive mechanisms.Advances in child development and behavior 01/2012; 42:271-305. · 0.95 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Investigating the underlying neural mechanisms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has recently been influenced by the discovery of mirror neurons. These neurons, active during both observation and execution of actions, are thought to play a crucial role in imitation and other social-communicative skills that are often impaired in ASD. In the current electroencephalographic study, we investigated mu suppression, indicating neural mirroring in children with ASD between the ages of 24 and 48 months and age-matched typically developing children, during observation of goal-directed actions and non-goal-directed mimicked hand movements, as well as during action execution. Results revealed no significant group differences with significant central mu suppression in the ASD children and control children during both execution and observation of goal-directed actions and during observation of hand movements. Furthermore, no significant correlations between mu suppression on one hand and quality of imitation, age, and social communication questionnaire scores on the other hand were found. These findings challenge the "broken mirror" hypothesis of ASD, suggesting that impaired neural mirroring is not a distinctive feature of ASD. Autism Res 2014, ●●: ●●- ●●. © 2014 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Autism Research 02/2014; · 3.99 Impact Factor