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Saturday, 15 January 2011


She believed that kids prosocial understanding was more advanced than proposed by Kohlberg. Even young kids are able to reason about their own prosocial behaviour and experience empathy with the feelings of others.
ROLE OF EMPATHY Emergence of empathy is an important point in the development of prosocial reasoning. Young kids experience prosocial distress when they see that someone else in unhappy, not because they feel sorry for them but its personally distressing to them (Cialdini et al 1982).
PERSPECTIVE TAKINGKey to development of empathy lies in the ability to take the perspective of another person. An emotional response is turned into empathetic concern when the child understands the distress of another and feels concern for them (Eisenberg,2000).
LEVELS OF PROSOCIAL REASONING Devised her own set of moral dilemmas to asses the kids development of thinking about prosocial moral issues. Kids prosocial reasoning is not that predictable because they can reason from different levels at one time. Older kids are more capable of more mature reasoning but may sometimes revert to earlier levels.
PROSOCIAL DIELLMAS Kohleberg’s dilemma is too difficult for kids to understand, might explain why ,kids showed immature development. Eisenberg developed simpler dilemmas that concerned prosocial actions.
In each dilemma a story of a central child character is faced in conflict with their own needs of another.
Used these stories with pre-school primary age and high school kids, conducting both cross sectional and longitudinal research (Eisenberg, 1991). Used kids responses and constructed her own age-related sequence of pro social development.
Level 1
Hedonistic, self focused orientation
Pre- school and early primary school age
Concerned with self- orientated consequences, reasons for helping involve direct gain to self. Future reciprocals liking for another.
Level 2
Needs orientated
Pre-school and primary school age
Concern for physical and psychological needs of others even when conflicts with own needs. Concern tends to be expressed in simple terms without perspective taking or empathy.
Level 3
Approach and interpersonal orientation
Some primary and secondary age
Motivated to behave along the lines expected by society,. Involved stereotypes ideas good/bad people and good/bad behaviour. To be seen helping is liked.
Level 4
Self- reflective empathic orientation
A few primary and many secondary school age
Personality reflects on emphasis on perspective- taking and empathic concern for the other person and the emotional consequence of one’s action which might involve feelings ‘good’ or ‘guilty’. ‘I will feel bad for leaving her here.’
Level 5
Strongly internalised principles
Some adolescents and most adults
Justification of actions are based on internalised values (e.g. concern for other rights) emotional consequences involve self- respect and living up to one’s own values.
(e.g. if I ignore her I wouldn’t be doing what I know to be right.)
Personal distress versus empathic concern
Ability to distinguish personal distress between empathic concern hinges on the ability to take the perspective of another person.
Marks beginning of prosocial behaviour in kids. Brazillian adults were well developed role- taking skills and were found to be more helpful and compassionate than poor role-takers (Eisenberg et al, 2001).
USING DILEMMAS TO ASSES REASONING + Eisenberg’s dilemmas are more appropriate to kids than Kohlberg’s, her theory may be more relevant to early development.
- Both theories are based on hypothetical dilemma, as real life decision making involves previous knowledge of victim and consideration of possible repercussion (Kerbs and Denton, 2003)
+ Evidence to support classifications producing using such dilemmas can be related to real - life behaviour.
+ Miller et al (1996)- found pre-school kids who have moved before hedonistic level were more likely to help and spontaneously shared things that were valued with their peers then those who were on the hedonistic stage
+Eisenberg et al (1991) found similar pattern- kids at a higher stage of development were more willing to help someone they disliked than those at the lower stage.
FELT- RESPONSIBILITY HYPOTHESISWhen one feels someone’s else distress they make you feel personally responsible for helping them. Supported in research study were the tendency to help was found to increase if participants were led to feel greater responsibility (Shaffer et al, 2006).
OTHER APPROACHES FOR EXPLAINING MORAL DEVELOPMENT Kohlberg and Eisenberg portray moral/prosocial as a mix of biological and social influences (nature vs. nature).
Behaviourist approach- is restricted to the effects of social experience.
Rewards and punishments increase/decrease the likelihood of a behaviour being repeated.
Evolutionary approach- morality evolved to uphold cooperative social relations which maximise our survival (Kerbs, 2008).,
GENDER AND CULTURE DIFFERENCES- Feshbach (1982)- females aged 10-12 more cooperative and caring than boys.
Maybe because girls mature earlier- by adolescence boys mature and are empathic.
- West Germany and Poland found similar changes from hedonistic to needs orientated reasoning to those initially found by Eisenberg (1986).
- Kibutz- reared Israeli adolescents showed little needs- orientation.
More likely to provide reasons based on communal values, as we might expect tthis in kids living in interdependent collectivist community.
REAL- WORLD APPLICATION Research shown criminals lack empathy and perspective- taking skills (Bush et al, 2000).
Some treatment programmes used with offenders involve training them in perspective taking skills through role reversal (Hoose et al, 2008)

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