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Empathy and Prosocial Behavior

Empathy’s characterization is the assortment of heterogeneous phenomena to the point that some researchers are of the idea to drop its usage since it sows confusion (Davis, 2015). Pro-social behavior is any activity done by an organism to better another’s need or alleviate their welfare. The primary purpose of this paper is to discuss the emergence of empathy in early childhood and how this capacity affects pro-social behavior.

Genetics influences pro-social behavior and Empathy. A meta-analysis of two studies discovered that genetic variables apply a reasonable effect on personal variability when it comes to empathy (Davis, 2015). Genetic variables equally expound a considerable measure of the personal variance in variability in empathy. Significantly, nonetheless, both environmental and genetic variables promote the relation between pro-social behavior and empathy (Davis, 2015).

At six months old, certain infants show directed other-oriented behaviors to mates expressing distress, while they are barely distressed themselves. Infants manifest empathy robustly when they are eight months old. Pre-verbal babies demonstrate primary empathetic concern for others, as shown by examination of characters’ interactions (Davis, 2015).

Toddlers between the years 1 and two manifest comforting behaviors to the distressed and at times forfeit their treasured belongings as an empathetic action (Davis, 2015). Moreover, children demonstrate early signs of personally encouraged helping behavior (Davis, 2015). For example, 14 to 18 months old pick desired items, which are in their vicinity for an experimenter and gives a helping hand when it comes to chores (Davis, 2015).

In conclusion, genetics influences not only pro-social behavior but also Empathy. At six months, an infant demonstrates directed other-oriented behaviors to age mates distressed. When they grow to 8 months, they start showing empathy.


Davis, M. H. (2015). Empathy and prosocial behavior. The Oxford handbook of prosocial behavior, 282-306.



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