, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 453–459 | Cite as

A Developmental Perspective on Moral Emotions

  • Tina Malti
  • Sebastian P. Dys


This article outlines a developmental approach to the study of moral emotions. Specifically, we describe our developmental model on moral emotions, one in which emotions and cognitions about morality get increasingly integrated and coordinated with development, while acknowledging inter-individual variation in developmental trajectories across the lifespan. We begin with a conceptual clarification of the concept of moral emotions. After a brief review of our own developmental approach to the study of moral emotions, we provide a selective summary of the developmental literature on negatively and positively valenced moral emotions, and describe a recent line of developmental research on the anticipation of negatively and positively valenced moral emotions in multifaceted contexts of social exclusion and inclusion. Next, we describe what it means to take a developmental perspective on moral emotions. Finally, we provide some preliminary conclusions and recommendations for future work to the developmental study of moral emotions.


Moral emotions Guilt Developmental model Childhood Adolescence 



This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Special thanks and appreciation go to the Research Assistants at the Laboratory for Social-emotional Development and Intervention at the University of Toronto, to the families, teachers, and practitioners who dedicated their time to participate in our research, and to our research collaborators.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoMissisaugaCanada

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