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Able to Cry in Response to Another’s Cry (0-3 Months)

Babies treat the sounds of crying differently from other sounds. In one study with 34-hour-old infants, infants cried often when hearing the sound of another newborn’s cry. When these infants were in a quiet room or heard a cry-like sound (just as loud) made on a synthesizer, they cried less often. Some researchers believe this ability is the foundation for empathy, which develops in the second year of life.


Brothers, L. (1989). A biological perspective on empathy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 10

Sagi, A., & Hoffman, M. L. (1976). Empathetic distress in the newborn. Developmental Psychology, 12, 175