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Child Dev. 1991 Dec;62(6):1393-408.

The relations of parental characteristics and practices to children's vicarious emotional responding.

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Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe 85287.


We examined the relation of parental empathy-related characteristics and emotion-related child-rearing practices to third and sixth graders' vicarious emotional responding. Children's heart rate, skin conductance, facial, and self-reported reactions to a sympathy-inducing film were assessed, as were their dispositional sympathy, empathy, and self-monitoring. Parental sympathy was positively related to low levels of personal distress in same-sex children and, for both parents, with sons' dispositional sympathy or empathy. Parental emphasis on problem-focused coping strategies when their sons were anxious was positively correlated with indexes of sons' situational and dispositional sympathy. Same-sex parental restrictiveness in regard to the control of inappropriate, hurtful emotional displays was associated with sons' and daughters' dispositional and situational sympathy, whereas maternal restrictiveness in regard to emotions that are unlikely to hurt others was correlated with nonverbal indexes of personal distress and self reports of low distress. Parental emphasis on control of the child's own negative emotion was associated with children's self-monitoring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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