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ERIC Number: ED171399
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Mar
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
The Elements of Empathy.
Iannotti, Ronald J.
When assessing the influence of empathy on prosocial motivation, analyzing empathy alone would lead to a misunderstanding. We must also assess other elements of the situation, such as the altruist's coping skills and situational constraints. In a similar manner empathy itself should be conceptualized as a process with many elements. One way to conceptualize these elements is to categorize them as to whether they are likely to develop in a cumulative, mechanistic, experience-dependent manner (content components of empathy) or to develop in a structural, organismic, process-dependent manner (structure components of empathy). Measures of content components show empathy developing at an early age; measures of structure components indicate continued development in childhood. Discrepant findings concerning the role of empathy in prosocial behavior may be resolved by considering the differential development of these components and by assuming that a minimal level of each is necessary for empathy to mediate prosocial behavior. For example, low or nonsignificant correlations between empathy and altruism have been found for children less than 7 years old. From 7 to 8 years and on, around the time Selman's stage II level of perspective-taking is achieved, significant correlations between empathy and altruism emerge. (Author/SS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (San Francisco, California, March 15-18, 1979)