Rudimentary sympathy in preverbal infants: preference for others in distress.

PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e65292 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0065292

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS

Yasuhiro Kanakogi
Yuko Okumura
Yasuyuki Inoue
Michiteru Kitazaki
Shoji Itakura

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Despite its essential role in human coexistence, the developmental origins and progression of sympathy in infancy are not yet fully understood. We show that preverbal 10-month-olds manifest sympathetic responses, evinced in their preference for attacked others according to their evaluations of the respective roles of victim, aggressor, and neutral party. In Experiment 1, infants viewing an aggressive social interaction between a victim and an aggressor exhibited preference for the victim. In Experiment 2, when comparing the victim and the aggressor to a neutral object, infants preferred the victim and avoided the aggressor. These findings indicate that 10-month-olds not only evaluate the roles of victims and aggressors in interactions but also show rudimentary sympathy toward others in distress based on that evaluation. This simple preference may function as a foundation for full-fledged sympathetic behavior later on.