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Volume 3 Issue 2 (July 1994), Pages 89-188

Patterns of development in early empathic behavior: Environmental and child constitutional influences (pages 125-146)


The second year of life is a period of developmental change and instability in empathic expressions. In this study, we identify specific developmental patterns of global empathy during the second year and investigate maternal style, family environment, and temperamental factors as moderator influences on these patterns of development. The sample consists of 158 children selected from twin pairs whose empathic development had been previously studied at 14 and 20 months of age. Planned comparisons within specific groups (initially high, mid‐range, or low empathy) tested the difference between children who changed versus those who remained stable. Maternal style, family climate, and child temperament variables significantly differentiated children among different patterns of development. Child gender was an additional moderator of family influences on development among those children whose empathic responses were initially low. These findings suggest the importance of distinguishing patterns of development based on where in the range of behaviors development is tracked.

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