Concern for Others in the First Year of Life: Theory, Evidence, and Avenues for Research

Maayan Davidov, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ronit Roth-Hanania, Ariel Knafo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concern for others has been thought to emerge in the 2nd year of life (Hoffman, , , ). Three related ideas underlying this view assume that younger infants cannot distinguish between self and other, cannot experience concern for others, and show self-distress because they misinterpret others' distress as their own. In this article, we review evidence contradicting these assumptions and propose an alternative view of early empathy development. Specifically, we argue that empathic concern does not depend on self-reflective abilities and exists during the 1st year of life, manifesting young infants' fundamental social nature. We also touch on avenues for research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-131
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Concern for others
  • Early development
  • Empathy
  • Infancy

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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