Prosocial behavior is versatile, multifaceted, and complex. This special section seeks to advance coherent, integrative understanding of prosocial development by addressing this topic through the prism of motivations. This conceptual Introduction presents key ideas that provide a framework for thinking about motivation for prosocial behavior and its development. It outlines the evolutionary roots of prosocial behavior, underscoring the interdependent roles of nature and nurture. This is followed by a discussion of several key psychological mechanisms reflecting different motivations for prosocial action (empathy for a distressed other, concern about another's goal, desire to act in accordance with internalized prosocial norms, and guilt). We discuss the critical components of each motivation and highlight pertinent contributions of the special section articles.
© 2016 The Authors. Child Development © 2016 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.