The Development of Empathy, Guilt, and Internalization of Distress

Carolyn Zahn-Waxler

in Anxiety, Depression, and Emotion

Published in print August 2000 | ISBN: 9780195133585
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847310 | DOI:

Series: Series in Affective Science

The Development of Empathy, Guilt, and Internalization of Distress

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This chapter opens with a review of updates in the field of developmental psychopathology and the role of emotion in adaptive and maladaptive developmental processes. Dysfunctions identified through psychopathology involve disconnections among the three components of emotion—experience, expression, and regulation. The next section introduces the concept of basic and higher-order emotions and presents the findings of recent research on basic emotions in infants, children, and adolescents. The book then focuses on the higher-order emotions of empathy and guilt by first presenting the origins and early development of these moral emotions and behaviors. Next, constitutional and environmental factors that influence the expression of these emotions are identified, followed by gender differences in the prosocial and reparative behaviors engendered by feelings of empathy and guilt. The remainder of this chapter explores the meaning of these differences in more detail and conclusions and implications for future research are also provided.

Keywords: empathy; guilt; developmental psychopathology; higher-order emotion; dysfunctions; maladaptive developmental process

Chapter.  22539 words. 

Subjects: Clinical Psychology

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