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Child Rearing and Children's Prosocial Initiations toward Victims of Distress

Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Marian Radke-Yarrow and Robert A. King
Child Development
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 319-330
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129406
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129406
Page Count: 12
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Child Rearing and Children's Prosocial Initiations toward Victims of Distress
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Abstract

Maternal rearing behavior was examined in relation to children's reparation for transgressions and altruism as bystanders to distress in others. The children were 1½-2½ years old. Mothers were trained in techniques of observing. They recorded their child's reactions and their own behaviors in everyday encounters with expressions of distress in others (sorrow, discomfort, pain). Distress was also simulated by mothers and investigators. Mothers' empathic caregiving was rated during home visits. Mothers' affectively delivered explanations regarding the distresses their children had caused to others were associated with children's reparations for transgressions. Such explanations were also associated with children's altruism when they were bystanders to another's distress. Empathic caregiving by mothers was positively associated with children's reparation and altruism. Findings are discussed in relation to theories of altruism, conscience, and child rearing.

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