What is Prosocial Behavior?

The scholar Nancy Eisenberg defines prosocial behavior as “voluntary actions that are intended to help or benefit another individual or group of individuals.”1 It involves “caring for others, generosity, and kindness.”1 For a child, this might take the form of helping a classmate who spills his or her lunch, or pitching in to help with an after-school project, or standing up for someone who is being bullied.

One way children could develop their prosocial behaviors and understand their importance is by building and practicing their empathy skills. As defined on our post about empathy, empathy is the ability to feel and understand what others are going through. Empathy includes feelings of sympathy and concern for others, caring for others, and perspective-taking. This multifaceted skill can help children make smart decisions, act out of love, and have strong, healthy relationships with friends, peers, their families, and their communities.

In the AIM Buddy Project, we plan to measure prosocial behaviors that reflect relational skills such as sharing, caring, and helping others.2

References:

  1. Eisenberg, N., & Mussen, P. H. (Eds.). (1989). The roots of prosocial behavior in children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., Pastorelli, C., Bandura, A., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2000). Prosocial foundations of children’s academic achievement.Psychological science11(4), 302-306.

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