Parent Discipline, Moral Internalization, and Development of Prosocial Motivation

Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (BLSC, volume 31)


In most research on prosocial behavior the actor is an innocent bystander. of equal importance are situations in which the actor is the cause of the other’s distress. I have for some time been dealing with both contexts. Regarding the first, I have put together a theory of the development of em thy (see Hoffman, 1982, for the most recent version) that includes several modes of empathic affect arousal and several stages of social-cognitive development. The empathic arousal modes combine with the social-cognitive stages, and the result is four developmental levels of empathic distress that I believe may account for the individual’s motivation to help in the innocent-bystander context. Regarding situations in which the actor is the cause of the other’s misfortune, I use as a framework the development of an internal moral orientation in which guilt is the major moral motive.


Moral Norm Moral Motive Moral Cognition Innocent Bystander Inductive Component 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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