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, 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.
- Hoffman, Martin L. (2000). Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511805851. ISBN 9780511805851.
- Faculty profile at NYU.
- Angier, Natalie (May 9, 1995), "Scientists Mull Role of Empathy In Man and Beast", New York Times.
- "Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly", Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 2004.
- Reviews of Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice:
- Eisenberg, Nancy; Morris, Amanda Sheffield (March 2001), Social Justice Research, 14 (1): 95–120, doi:10.1023/a:1012579805721, S2CID 143294939CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Stilwell, Barbara M.; Thomas, Christopher R. (May 2001), Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40 (5): 614–615, doi:10.1097/00004583-200105000-00026CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Raboteg-Šarić, Zora (September 2001), Contemporary Sociology, 30 (5): 487–488, doi:10.2307/3089337, JSTOR 3089337CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Spiecker, Ben (2002), "Review", Pedagogiek, 21 (3): 283–285, hdl:1874/187699
- Wren, Thomas E. (January 2003), Ethics, 113 (2): 417–419, doi:10.1086/343014, JSTOR 10.1086/343014, S2CID 151464729CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Vogt, Lori Ann (March 2003), The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, 12 (2): 46–47, PMC 2538478CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Rottschaefer, William A. (September 2004), "Review", Journal of Moral Education, 33 (3): 385–387, hdl:10822/988141
- Moomey, Andrea J. (Fall 2005), Journal of Church and State, 47 (4): 863–864, doi:10.1093/jcs/47.4.863, JSTOR 23920974CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
- Fernández, Benjamín Reyes (February 2011), Actualidades en Psicología, Universidad de Costa Rica, 20 (107): 141, doi:10.15517/ap.v20i107.40CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)