The Relations of Parental Characteristics and Practices to Children's Vicarious Emotional Responding

Nancy Eisenberg, Richard Fabes, M. Schaller, G. Carlo, Paul Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


We examined the relation of parental empathy‐related characteristics and emotion‐related child‐rearing practices to third and sixth graders' vicarious emotional responding. Children's heart rate, skin conductance, facial, and self‐reported reactions to a sympathy‐inducing film were assessed, as were their dispositional sympathy, empathy, and self‐monitoring. Parental sympathy was positively related to low levels of personal distress in same‐sex children and, for both parents, with sons' dispositional sympathy or empathy. Parental emphasis on problem‐focused coping strategies when their sons were anxious was positively correlated with indexes of sons' situational and dispositional sympathy. Same‐sex parental restrictiveness in regard to the control of inappropriate, hurtful emotional displays was associated with sons' and daughters' dispositional and situational sympathy, whereas maternal restrictiveness in regard to emotions that are unlikely to hurt others was correlated with nonverbal indexes of personal distress and self reports of low distress. Parental emphasis on control of the child's own negative emotion was associated with children's self‐monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1408
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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