Family roots of empathy-related characteristics: The role of perceived maternal and paternal need support in adolescence
Theories on empathy development have stressed the role of socialization in general and the role of parental support in particular. This 3-wave longitudinal study of middle adolescents (N = 678) aimed to contribute to the extant research on the socialization of empathy (a) by examining the relative contribution of perceived maternal and paternal need supportive parenting on over-time changes in adolescents’ emotional and cognitive aspects of empathy (i.e., empathic concern and perspective taking, respectively) and (b) by considering the possibility of reciprocal relations between perceived parenting and adolescent empathy. Whereas paternal need support consistently predicted over-time changes in perspective taking in both sons and daughters, perceived maternal need support predicted changes in empathic concern among daughters only. In addition, although less consistently so, empathy dimensions also predicted over-time changes in perceived parenting. Results are discussed in terms of the nature of empathy and in the light of domain-specific effects of each parent.
Miklikowska, M., Duriez, B., & Soenens, B. (2011). Family roots of empathy-related characteristics: The role of perceived maternal and paternal need support in adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1342-1352.