Links among neuroticism, inconsistent discipline, and empathy were assessed in a longitudinal study of adolescents. Mothers’, but not fathers’, inconsistent discipline predicted decreases in empathy 2 years later, but only for adolescents who were low in neuroticism. For those who were high, there was no effect of inconsistent discipline
Authoritarian parenting was not related to empathy, nor was there any interaction between neuroticism and authoritarianism. Neuroticism also moderated the relation between empathy and adolescent prosocial behavior, with empathy and prosocial behavior positively related for adolescents who were high in neuroticism but not related for those who were low in neuroticism.
These findings shed light on the specificity of parenting antecedents of empathic behavior in adolescence as well as the role of personality in this relation.