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Psicologia USP

On-line version ISSN 1678-5177


BUSSAB, Vera Silvia Raad; PEDROSA, Maria Isabel  and  CARVALHO, Ana Maria Almeida. Encounters: Empathy and intersubjectivity in the first year of life. Psicol. USP [online]. 2007, vol.18, n.2, pp. 99-133. ISSN 1678-5177.

The observation of a caretaking episode among two children aged 9 and 18 months has launched a reflection on the ontogeny of empathy. In this paper, this episode is described and some theoretical questions it evoked are raised, regarding conceptions about children and development, ontogeny of communication and cultural life. Subsequently, the literature on socio-affective and cognitive development in the first year of life is reviewed from the psychoethological and socioconstructivist perspectives, placing some emphasis on Henri Wallon’s contribution. Three concepts are highlighted: intersubjectivity, empathy and imitation. This literature depicts the human neonate as an organism which is biologically organized for socio-cultural life since birth, or even from the moment of conception, through its pre-adaptedness for encounters with other human beings and for social exchanges, which are constitutive conditions of individual development.

Keywords : Empathy; Intersubjectivity; Imitation; Infants; Human development.

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