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22 Cards in this Set

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Eisenberg, Fabes and Spinrad (2007) - prosocial behaviour definition

Eisenberg, Fabes and Spinrad (2007)

Prosocial behaviour is defined as a voluntary behaviour intended to assist another

Evidence that human children are prosocial from an early age

Warnaken and Tomasello (2006, 2007) - helping adults to achieve their goal

Brown, Svetlova and Nichols (2009) - sharing toys and food


There is an extensive debate within the field of developmental psychology as to whether infants are innately predisposed to engage in prosocial behaviours vs. behaviours develop as a result from social experiences

Evolutionary theory

Argument - prosocial behaviour develops from biological factors

According to evolutionary theory, prosocial behaviours have been retained in humans because they have been proven to promote survival


Crisp and Turner (2010) - altruism is a form of prosocial behaviour that is intended to help others with no direct benefit to the self

Warneken and Tomasello (2009)

Altruism benefits the group as a whole; therefore humans have evolved with an innate predisposition to behave altruistically (which is moderated through experience with cheats and uncooperative beings). Thus it would follow that children will display altruistic tendencies as soon as they have the capacity to behave in such a way that reflects these tendencies.

Evidentiary support: humans have natural prosocial inclination from birth

Simner, Yarrow and Waxler(1971; 1976) - neonates respond when others are in distress e.g. through reactive crying - showing empathetic concern

Warneken and Tomasello (2006, 2007)

Investigated the prevalence of altruism in 14 and 18 month year olds

Experimenter having trouble achieving task. Children display spontaeous and unrewarded helping behaviours when person is unable to attain goal

Warneken, Hare, Melis et al (2007)

Even in the presence of obstacles that require toddlers to exert effort (i.e. helping behaviour is costly), no hinderance to children's altruism

Further support to the idea that prosocial behaviours are intrinsically motivated - extrinsic reward

Extrinsic rewards can inhibit prosocial acts

Warneken and Tomasello (2008)

Experimenter having trouble with task. Children help. Either no response, praised or rewarded by experimenter.

Then experimenter having difficulty with second task- children who had received reward previously less likely to help on second occassion

Explanation of results

It appeared that the intrinsic motivation to engage in prosocial behaviour had been replaced by the extrinsic motivation to behave altruistically in order to receive a reward

Therefore when reward is not offered a second time, the motivation to behave prosocially decreases and helping behaviour less likely to occur

The Overjustification Effect

Deci, Koestner and Ryan (1999)


Genocentric POV - humans are depicted as individualistic, competitive and selfish in order to attain maximum inclusive fitness.

Darwin (1976) - it is evolutionarily unstable to engage in altruistic behaviours.

Therefore... psychologists consider whether prosocial behaviours emerge out of infants' experiences of shared activites and relationships with others

Theoretical frameworks on socialisation mechanisms

Emphasis on the role of parents - been shown to promote prosocial behaviour in numerous ways

e.g. early mother-child relationship

Kochanska, Forman and Coy (1999)

Two components of mother-child relationship that are particularly important:

1) Mother's responsiveness to child's signals and bids

2)shared affect between mother and child

Further way in which parents promote prosocial behavior

Through constructive and supportive discipline

Rheingold (1982)

Toddlers' assistance in routine household tasks - parentss get young children to help by attracting their attention, encouragement, modelling their behaviour and describing their own activities; all of which were effective in securing children's assistance

Hammond (2011)

Recent extension of Rheingold's study

The more parents appropriately scaffolded their children's helping behaviour on the household tasks, the more likely they were to help an experimenter on an independent task.

Results support the idea that child-parent experience gradually gives rise to independent social behaviour

But... are perspectives mutually exclusive?

Often, the evolutionary and socialisation frameworks of prosocial behaviour are pitted against each other. But consolidation of the evidence suggests that children are born with varying propensities to engage in prosocial behaviour, and socialisation factors then influence the extent to which such predispositions manifest themselves

Greenough, Black and Wallace (1987)

Prosocial behaviour is an experience-expectant process,

Socialisationfactors fine-tune aspects of the development of prosocial actions that cannotproceed to maximum expression as a result of genetic predispositions workingalone