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His work largely has to do with the development of empathy, and its relationship with moral development. His research also touches on areas such as empathic anger, sympathy, guilt and feelings of injustice.
Hoffman did his undergraduate studies at Purdue University, receiving a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1945. He earned a master's degree in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1947 and his PhD in social psychology at the University of Michigan in 1951. In the 1960s, he became editor of the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: A Journal of Developmental Psychology, and oversaw its conversion from a newsletter to an academic journal.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society.
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