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Relationship of Empathy, Perspective-taking Ability, and Caregiving in Young Children to Infant Sibling Attachment

Banks, Nancy Vickrey
The subjects were 36 mother, infant (aged 11 to 23 months), and older sibling (aged 30 to 79 months) triads. A variation of the Ainsworth (1978) Strange Situation Procedure (Stewart, 1983) was used to assess attachment and caregiving: several measures were used to assess the older sibling's level of empathy and perspective-taking ability. Highly significant correlations were obtained between older sibling's caregiving and infant attachment, � = .69, p<.OOOl, and between sibling's caregiving and level of empathy, � = .70, p<.OOOl. However, caregiving was not significantly related to perspective-taking. The age of the older sibling was found to be related to caregiving (� = .36, p<.03), empathy (� = .51, p<.OOl), and perspectivetaking ability(�= .75, p<.OOOl). These findings suggest that empathy may be a more important factor in child caregiving and infant sibling attachment than perspective-taking ability.