Empathy and moral development in adolescence

Nancy Eisenberg, Paul Mussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Examined the relationship between empathy and 2 measures of moral development (prosocial moral reasoning and helping) with a sample of 72 Ss in Grades 9, 11, and 12. Parental socialization practices were also examined. Each S completed an affective empathy questionnaire, and 2 91-item Q-sorts-one concerning the mother's childrearing practices, the other pertaining to the father's. Empathy was significantly related to moral reasoning for both sexes and to helping for males. Maternal child-rearing practices were related to sons' empathy; mothers of highly empathic boys were nonpunitive, nonrestrictive, egalitarian, encouraged their offspring to discuss their problems, and set high standards for their sons. Females' empathy was not associated with parental socialization practices, perhaps due to a ceiling effect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-186
Number of pages2
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1978


  • childrearing practices & empathy, moral development, male vs female 9th & 11th & 12th graders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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