The moral self of infancy: Affective core and procedural knowledge

Robert N. Emde, Zeynep Biringen, Robert B. Clyman, David Oppenheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The early self has dual orgins in (1) a set of biologically prepared motives and (2) interactions with emotionally available caregivers. We think of self as an organizing mental process and as a regulator of experience. Most emotionally engaging experiences in infancy are stored as procedural knowledge and are made use of in ways that are not accessible to consciousness; such experiences nonetheless contribute substantially to an "affective core" of a dynamic self. Recent research also leads us to the view that the early self is a moral one. Significant variations in the moral self occur in both developmental and social contexts, and these variations point to the need for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopmental Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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