The Effects of Maternal Sensitivity on the Development of the Empathy in Neglected Children

Barsky, Diana
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University of Delaware
Neglected children are often at risk for developing disorganized attachments, which can result in poor development of socioemotional skills, such as empathy. However, children who receive high-quality, sensitive parenting may be buffered from these negative outcomes. In this study, we examined the relationship between maternal sensitivity and child empathy in a sample of 155 caregiver-child dyads, who were referred by Child Protective Services for concerns of neglect when the children were infants. Maternal sensitivity was measured through a semi-structured play task at an early (0-18 months) and later (18-30 months) timepoint. We also measured child empathy skills through a simulated maternal distress task at 36 and 48 months. There were no significant associations between maternal sensitivity during play and child empathy.
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES , Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology