People are not born moral or immoral. Normal children have the capacity to develop empathy and positive behaviors such as helping and sharing, as well negative behaviors such as stealing and aggression. But how do children become moral individuals? Evidence suggests that heredity plays some role in the development of moral behavior in children. Researchers have found that identical twins are more similar to one another in their empathy and prosocial behavior than are fraternal twins (see review in Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998). It is likely that aspects of children’s temperament that are heritable (e.g., their tendencies to experience emotions such as sadness and anger and their ability to regulate their emotions and related behavior) provide an avenue through which genetics affect children’s moral behavior. In addition, children’s temperaments affect how their parents interact with and attempt to socialize them. Thus, it is likely that children’s genetic inheritances affect their moral development in multiple ways. Nonetheless, it appears that socialization within the family is an important contributor to children’s moral development.
- Moral Judgment
- Prosocial Behavior
- Moral Reasoning
- Moral Development
- Physical Punishment
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
Eisenberg, N. (1992). The caring child. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Eisenberg, N. (2000). Emotion, regulation, and moral development. In S. T. Fiske, D. L. Schacter, & C. Zahn-Waxier (Eds.), Annual review of psychology: Vol. 51 (pp. 665–697 ). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.
Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Prosocial development. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 701–778 ). New York: Wiley.
Eisenberg, N., & Valiente, C. (2002). Children’s prosocial and moral development. In M. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting: Vol. 5 ( 2nd ed, pp. 111–142 ). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Fabes, R. A., Fultz, J., Eisenberg, N., May-Plumlee, T., & Christopher, E S. (1989). The effects of reward on children’s prosocial motivation: A socialization study. Developmental Psychology, 25, 509–515.
Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Kochanska, G., & Thompson, R.A. (1997). The emergence and development of conscience in toddlerhood and early childhood. In J. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds.),Handbookof parenting and the internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 53–77 ). New York: Wiley.
Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on moral development: Vol. II. The psychology of moral development. San Francisco, Harper and Row.
Oliner, S. P., & Oliner, P. M. (1988). The altruistic personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. New York: Free Press.
Rosenhan, D. L. (1970). The natural socialization of altruistic autonomy. In J. Macaulay & L. Berkowitz (Eds.), Altruism and helping behavior (pp. 251–268 ). New York: Academic Press.
Schulman, M., & Mekler, E. (1985). Bringing up a moral child. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
Walker, L. J., & Hennig, K. H. (1999). Parenting style and the development of moral reasoning. Journal of Moral Education, 28, 359–374.
Editors and Affiliations
Rights and permissions
© 2004 Springer Science+Business Media New York
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Eisenberg, N. (2004). Prosocial and Moral Development in the Family. In: Thorkildsen, T.A., Walberg, H.J. (eds) Nurturing Morality. Issues in Children’s and Families’ Lives, vol 5. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-4163-6_7
Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA
Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-3454-3
Online ISBN: 978-1-4757-4163-6
eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive