The Provenance of Sympathy

  • Lauren Wispé
Part of the Perspectives in Social Psychology book series (PSPS)


Now that we have defined sympathy, it seems necessary to try to think about its origins. Most of the theorists of sympathy, when they consid­ered the matter at all, explicitly or by implication regarded sympathy as an inborn capacity. More recently, however, sympathy theorists have been more interested in matters other than the roots of sympathy, while biologists and those interested in evolution have not been interested in sympathy at all. Partly this is a matter of terminology. The term sympathy arose out of a philosophical concern with moral development. It is not a “scientific” word. And partly the roots of sympathy are not studied because that problem does not fall neatly into the bailiwick of any of the scientific disciplines.


Fraternal Twin Empathic Concern Early Hominid Nurturant Parent Philosophical Concern 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Wispé
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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