ERIC Number: ED179294
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Sep
Development of Empathy and Altruism.
Hoffman, Martin L.
A developmental model for an empathy-based prosocial motive is presented. The framework of the model is presented in terms of three components of empathy. The first component, empathic affective arousal, is discussed and six involuntary psychological mechanisms which underlie it are described briefly. These mechanisms, in the order in which they appear developmentally, include: reactive newborn cry, conditioning, association, mimicry, symbolic association, and role-taking. The cognitive-transformational component of empathy is discussed next and four levels of empathic response are described that result from the coalescence of empathic affect and the cognitive sense of the other. These levels are: (1) global empathic distress, (2) empathic distress which is experienced with the awareness that another person and not the self is the victim, (3) empathic distress which is experienced with the awareness that other people's feelings are based on their own reaction to events and are independent of self feelings, and (4) empathically aroused affect which can be aroused by the plight of an entire group or class of people. The third component of empathy discussed is the motivational component. Altruistic or prosocial motivation refers to the behavioral disposition of a person experiencing empathic distress to do something to relieve the victim's distress. Socialization experiences which will increase a child's empathic abilities are discussed and relevant research is summarized. The question of whether a motive to help others is a part of human nature is discussed. (JMB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (87th, New York, NY, September 1-5, 1979)