From being nice to being kind: development of prosocial behaviors

Curr Opin Psychol. 2018 Apr;20:45-49. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.07.036. Epub 2017 Aug 5.


Empirical findings regarding the origins and development of prosocial behaviors from infancy to childhood have generated new information on when young children act prosocially toward others, how prosocial behavior changes across development, and why children do or do not behave prosocially. We discuss recent advances in three areas of research: First, studies have increasingly focused on age-related differences in various prosocial behaviors. Second, psychological underpinnings of prosocial behavior development have contributed to a better understanding of children's motives for prosocial behaviors. Third, dispositional and situational effects on the development of prosocial behaviors have been examined. We discuss consequences of individual differences in prosocial behaviors and provide recommendations for future directions for the study of prosocial behavior development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Motivation
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Psychology, Developmental*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Socialization

Grant support