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Prosocial Behavior

Definition

Prosocial behavior is voluntary behavior intended to benefit another. Thus, it includes behaviors such as helping, sharing, or providing comfort to another. Prosocial behavior is evident in young children but changes in frequency and in its expression with age. Individual differences in prosocial behavior are caused by a combination of heredity, socialization, and situational factors. Prosocial behaviors can be preformed for a variety of reasons, ranging from selfish and manipulative reasons (e.g., helping get something in return) to moral and other-oriented reasons (e.g., helping because of moral principles or sympathy for another's plight). Prosocial behavior that is not performed for material or social rewards (e.g., rewards, approval), but is based on concern for another or moral values, is usually labeled “altruism.”

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