Mentalization and empathy ontogenetic development: empirical studies review



The article considers the main fields and onotogenetic development processes of men- talization and empathy. The neural measures and psychological studies results show that there is an active formation process of mentalization and empathy in adolescence. The article highlights the disputable character of the results of modern studies of social cognition in adolescence. The neural measures require further interpretation. The differences in mechanisms of empathy and mentalization are discussed, specifically the order of empathy components (cognitive or emotionally) forming in the onotogenetic development process. The various results of studies showing the proximity of these processes and prove their relative independence (including at the level of neural networks). The article contains the evidence that strong mentalization reduces the risk of emotional maladjustment and aggressive behavior, while its deficits correlate with bullying. We consider the current study of mentalization and empathy family factors. Particular attention is paid to the E.Mains study, which summarizes the research of social cognition ontogenetic development factors in building on the cultural and historical theory development of the of the psyche L.S. Vygotsky. The study was performed by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (grant № 14- 18-03461) at the Federal Medical Research Centre of Psychiatry and Narcology under the Ministry of Public Health of the Russian Federation.

General Information

Keywords: social cognition, mentalization, empathy, factors of social cognition

Journal rubric: Research Reviews

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Klimenkova E.N. Mentalization and empathy ontogenetic development: empirical studies review. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2016. Vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 126–137. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2016240406. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Elizaveta N. Klimenkova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Lecturer, Department of Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, State professional educational establishment Complex «South-West»,Psychologist, school psychologist, the structural subdivision "Sevastopol", Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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