Speaking of Empathy

I just posted about chimps, yawning, and empathy.

Now I’m thinking about human kids.

Toddlers don’t have empathy. And certainly infants don’t. Sometimes toddlers play empathic roles, pretending to really care, but when it doesn’t amuse them any more, they stop. There have been all kinds of studies about when kids really start to develop a sense of the fact that other people have feelings and thoughts and knowledge of their own.

And toddlers don’t experience contagious yawning.

I won’t repeat what I already said in my last post about the possible link between contagious yawning and empathy.

But I wonder whether empathy in human children comes around the same time as contagious yawning. I bet it does, but I can’t find where anyone’s published anything about that specific question.

My thinking is that when you first notice your child experiencing contagious yawning, you should consider it a big milestone.

[Incidentally, I also bet that chimps have the same developmental milestones.]

One Response to Speaking of Empathy

  1. BruceS December 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    As sort of a side-note, I recently saw the results of a study that showed children to be, in nearly all cases, heartless sociopaths. You can probably guess what reliable publication had this story.

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