Nancy Eisenberg to speak on prosocial behavior in children

March 02, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — One of the world’s leading authorities on empathy and child development, Nancy Eisenberg, will present the 2017 Lecture on Compassion. Eisenberg, who is Regents Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, will talk about “Empathy-Related Responding and Prosocial Behavior in Children,” at 4 p.m. on April 20 in Room 22 of the Biobehavioral Health Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A pioneer in the study of the moral and social-emotional development of children and adolescents, Eisenberg’s research has spanned nearly 45 years. She has made groundbreaking contributions to understanding the biological (temperament), psychological (self-regulation), and social-contextual (parenting practices) factors that shape prosocial dispositions in the child such as empathy, compassion, and helping behavior.

“I am delighted that Penn State is highlighting this topic and look forward to talking to people about compassion, which is a very timely topic in our world today … something I think we all need to understand better,” Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg will discuss antecedents, correlates, and sequelae of children’s empathy-related and prosocial responding. She will review research linking empathy-related responding to prosocial behavior, moral reasoning, aggression and externalizing problems, and positive social behavior. 

“Nancy’s work is particularly important because she conducts longitudinal research that follows individuals over time in order to understand both the antecedents and long-term consequences of moral and social-emotional development on health, wellbeing, and life success,” said Robert W. Roeser, Bennett Pierce Professor in Caring and Compassion.

The Lectureship on Compassion is an annual event developed and funded by Mark Greenberg, holder of the Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research, and his wife, Christa Turksma, a curriculum developer and teacher of mindfulness skills. The forum is intended to showcase the findings and perspectives of outstanding researchers and practitioners in the areas of awareness, compassion and empathy.

Eisenberg received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in developmental psychology. She has published hundreds of articles, books, special journals, chapters and reviews, and is the recipient of numerous awards from the National Institutes of Health, Association for Psychological Science, and Society for Research in Child Development.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Eisenberg offer the second lecture on compassion as her work informs both prevention and health promotion efforts early in development at a time when children’s social-emotional development is more malleable and therefore, can be modified through prevention and enrichment activities.“ Roeser said.

In addition, at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, Eisenberg will give a presentation on “Self-Regulation in Childhood: Conceptualization and Correlates” in 127 Moore Building. This talk is co-sponsored with the Child Study Center in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The College of Health and Human Development and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center are hosts for the annual event. For more information on the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 08, 2021