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Learning to Live TogetherPreventing Hatred and Violence in Child and Adolescent Development$
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David A. Hamburg and Beatrix A. Hamburg

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157796

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195157796.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

Development of prosocial behavior

Development of prosocial behavior

(p.64) 5 Development of prosocial behavior
Learning to Live Together

David A. Hamburg

Beatrix A. Hamburg

Oxford University Press

The next several chapters follow a developmental sequence of examining opportunities for learning peaceful human relationships in programs appropriate for children at different stages of growth and development. The focus on prosocial behavior is broadly applicable to the basic orientation of this book. The primary focus of this chapter is on the role of prosocial behavior in the earliest years of life. Nancy Eisenberg and Paul Mussen of the University of California at Berkeley provide a major analytical examination of what is known about prosocial behavior–its development and the underlying mechanisms at work. This body of research examines how children are socialized to behave prosocially–what are the personal attributes and capabilities involved, and what are the impacts of the social environment that inhibit or facilitate expressions of generosity, helping, and comforting? There are fundamental questions on this topic; much has been learned, but many questions await future research to clarify significant issues. Why are some individuals predisposed toward prosocial conduct, whereas others are not? How does genetic makeup predispose one to behave compassionately? What are the specific interactions of children of differing ages, gender, and past experiences with major socialization agents such as parents, teachers, schools, siblings, peers, cultural and religious institutions, and the mass media? What are the cultural values that foster or reduce prosocial behavior? The other major variability has to do with differences within an individual’s responses to the current context–the fact that everyone’s behavior varies from time to time, according to the situation. The research evidence confirms the malleability of behavior across all ages and indicates ample opportunity for the learning of prosocial behavior and its modifiability over the course of development. So, ways can be found for teachers, parents, and others to contribute toward shaping individual prosocial behavior and thereby, in the aggregate, to promote and sustain a more constructive society. Eisenberg and Mussen distinguish between prosocial behavior and altruism:… • Prosocial behavior is defined as voluntary action that is intended to help another individual or a group. Although voluntary in nature, prosocial actions may be performed for a variety of reasons–for reward, approval, sense of duty, or because of genuine sympathy. • Altruism is one particular type of prosocial behavior stemming from intrinsic motivation (i.e., concern, sympathy, values, self-rewards), not from personal gain. In practice, these two forms of behavior are often considered together as prosocial.

Keywords:   African Americans, Dekovic, Fabes, Patterson Social Learning Center, Vietnam War, World War II

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