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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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Empathic Responding: Sympathy and Personal Distress

Empathic Responding: Sympathy and Personal Distress

(p.71) 6 Empathic Responding: Sympathy and Personal Distress
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

Nancy Eisenberg

Natalie D. Eggum

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the role of self-regulation—especially as reflected in effortful control which has been linked to neurological functioning—in empathy-related responding. Developmental psychologists have identified self-regulatory processes such as planning, the inhibition of behavior, activation of behavior, voluntary control of the allocation of attention, and integration of information such that one can detect errors. After briefly discussing some definitional and conceptual issues, the chapter reviews the results of studies that investigated pain and its regulation as well as sympathy and personal distress. It also explains how attachment and parenting affect the development of empathy and self-regulation in children.

Keywords:   self-regulation, effortful control, empathy-related responding, pain, sympathy, personal distress, attachment, parenting, empathy

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