Role of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Development of Empathy



The paper provides a review of studies on factors influencing empathy development in early childhood and on conditions promoting manifestation of empathy in children later in life. The outcomes of several studies shed light on the character of empathic response at early stages of child development, particularly in infancy and toddlerhood. This review covers research on the role of biological factors and mechanisms in empathy development (for instance, features of temperament and neuronal bases), as well as research on the relationship between genetic and environmental factors in the development of empathy in ontogenesis. Another part of the paper describes studies on the role of social conditions in the development of empathy in childhood: it focuses primarily on family relations and, in particular, on the mother/child relationship. The paper concludes with several suggestions concerning further research of the specified problem.

General Information

Keywords: empathy development, empathy factors, mirror neurons, imitation, synchronicity, emotional attachment

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology


Funding. The finance support is carried on by RGNF Russian State Scientific Fund (RGNF) research project No. 15-06-10943.

For citation: Yudina T.O. Role of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Development of Empathy. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2017. Vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 13–23. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2017130202. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Tatiana O. Yudina, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor of the Department of General Psychology, Institute of Social Science, Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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