Emotionality

A child's moral reasoning ability and behavior expands as emotions, other awareness, and self-awareness develop. People feeling guilt, the emotion of remorse over doing wrong, often feel empathy and are often motivated to confess and compensate. Feelings of guilt, as well as feelings of disgust, sadness, and empathic anger, also coincide with perceptions of injustice and immorality. Those with empathic and sympathetic temperaments or positive moods, in general, tend to exhibit more sharing, supporting, volunteering, helping, and less aggressive behavior, while intense negative emotions tend to lead to destructive or unproductive anger resolution. Feelings of shame that arise from situations in which the self has been challenged appear to be related to antisocial behavior. Shame and embarrassment tend to reflect others' evaluations and play a large role in conformity to social conventions.

The precursors to many emotions are self- and other awareness, which may occur as early as twelve or fifteen months of age. Guilt and other types of mental discomfort about moral and social transgressions begin to develop between fourteen and forty-six months. Additionally, empathic responding, repara-tive behavior, and awareness of right and wrong are first evident at twenty-four months. Children who demonstrate these feelings and behaviors also demonstrate fewer moral and social transgressions. Between ages seven and eleven the brain has adequately developed so that children can begin to understand moral issues and relate to their own feelings about moral behavior. During adolescence not only does complex moral reasoning increase, but so too does concern for others. Cognitive processing or thinking skills, however, tend to break down when people feel threatened or sad; therefore, it is understandable that adolescents may concentrate on their own needs and desires when the costs of helping others are great.

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