Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Peers, cooperative play, and the development of empathy in children

Celia A. Brownell a1, Stephanie Zerwas a1 and Geetha Balaram a1
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Cooperative peer play emerges in the second year of life. How applicable is Preston & de Waal's (P&deW's) model to the empathic processes in cooperative play? Empathic responses during peer play are more general than they propose, and more dependent on mental state understanding. Moreover, peer play forces children to reason about others' feelings, possibly serving as a unique mechanism for empathy development.