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Dr. Nancy Eisenberg Essay

1651 words - 7 pages

Several local, national, and world events occurring during the transitional period between the 1960's and the 1970's influenced Eisenberg's decision to continue her education in developmental psychology, as well as her initial research into what she calls “other oriented political attitudes” (Eisenberg, 2002; H.L. Miller, personal communication, January 28, 2011). However, before discussing these incidents, something that indirectly influenced Eisenberg by triggering a resurgence of interest in the field of prosocial behavior itself should be mentioned (Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989, pp. 9-10; H.L. Miller, personal communication, January 28, 2011). This was the murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York March 1964 (Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989, pp. 9-10). The reason this event impacted the nation was because 38 people saw and heard Genovese being killed, but did nothing to stop it (Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989, pp. 9-10). Due to this well publicized episode, leading scientists of the time began investigating the reasons why people do, or do not, assist others (Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989, pp. 9-10).
A few years after this reawakening, Eisenberg matriculated to the University of Michigan and got involved in some of the sociopolitical activities that surrounded her (Eisenberg, 2002). Of these events, Eisenberg specifically cites her efforts in local instances of the anti-Vietnam war protests and the Civil Rights Movement as greatly impacting her future (Eisenberg, 2002, p.131). She also credits other national events, like the counterculture movement, with creating an increasingly liberal political mood that encouraged her to enter into debates about social justice issues (Eisenberg, 2002; Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989, p.9). These debates inspired Eisenberg to research the development of humanitarian political attitudes (Eisenberg, 2002; H.L. Miller, personal communication, January 28, 2011). However, a review of the current published findings influenced Eisenberg to broaden her scope, and so she turned to investigating the development of helping behaviors in general (Eisenberg, 2002; H.L. Miller, personal communication, January 28, 2011). Eisenberg repeatedly allows current events and the results of her previous research to impact the future direction of her work, as is evident in the review of her research below (Eisenberg, 2002; H.L. Miller, personal communication, January 28, 2011).
Early in her career, Eisenberg completed field research in the area of prosocial actions (Eisenberg, 2002; Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989). She focused on investigating the development of cognitive thinking that promotes positive behavior as opposed to Kohlberg's studies focusing on the moral reasoning behind negative behavior (Bee & Boyd, 2007; Eisenberg, 2002; Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989). As a result, Eisenberg proposed that there are five age related levels of prosocial moral reasoning (Bee & Boyd, 2007; Eisenberg & Mussen, 1989). While she correlates progression through these levels...

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