Children's moral motivation, sympathy, and prosocial behavior.Child Dev. 2009 Mar-Apr; 80(2):442-60.CD
Two studies investigated the role of children's moral motivation and sympathy in prosocial behavior. Study 1 measured other-reported prosocial behavior and self- and other-reported sympathy. Moral motivation was assessed by emotion attributions and moral reasoning following hypothetical transgressions in a representative longitudinal sample of Swiss 6-year-old children (N = 1,273). Prosocial behavior increased with increasing sympathy, especially if children displayed low moral motivation. Moral motivation and sympathy were also independently related to prosocial behavior. Study 2 extended the findings of Study 1 with a second longitudinal sample of Swiss 6-year-old children (N = 175) using supplementary measures of prosocial behavior, sympathy, and moral motivation. The results are discussed in regard to the precursors of the moral self in childhood.