Article thumbnail

Prosocial Norms as a Positive Youth Development Construct: A Conceptual Review

By Andrew M. H. Siu, Daniel T. L. Shek and Ben Law


Prosocial norms like reciprocity, social responsibility, altruism, and volunteerism are ethical standards and beliefs that youth development programs often want to promote. This paper reviews evolutionary, social-cognitive, and developmental theories of prosocial development and analyzes how young people learn and adopt prosocial norms. The paper showed that very few current theories explicitly address the issue of how prosocial norms, in form of feelings of moral obligations, may be challenged by a norm of self-interest and social circumstances when prosocial acts are needed. It is necessary to develop theories which put prosocial norms as a central construct, and a new social cognitive theory of norm activation has the potential to help us understand how prosocial norms may be applied. This paper also highlights how little we know about young people perceiving and receiving prosocial norms and how influential of school policies and peer influence on the prosocial development. Lastly, while training of interpersonal competence (e.g., empathy, moral reasoning, etc.) was commonly used in the youth development, their effectiveness was not systematically evaluated. It will also be interesting to examine how computer and information technology or video games may be used in e-learning of prosocial norms

Topics: Review Article
Publisher: The Scientific World Journal
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (1983). A .L .B e a m a n ,C .C o l e ,M .P r e s t o n ,B .K l e n t z ,a n dN .M .S t e -blay, “Fifteen years of foot-in-the-door research,”
  2. (1996). A cross-national study on the relations among prosoical moral reasoning, gender role orientations, and prosocial behaviors,”
  3. (2002). A longitudinal study of peer and teacher influences on prosocial and antisocial behavior of Hong Kong Chinese adolescents,” Social Behavior and Personality,
  4. (2005). A.M.H.SiuandD.T.L.Shek,“Validationoftheinterpersonal reactivity index in a Chinese context,”
  5. (2008). Adolescents’ aggressive and prosocial behavior: associations with jealousy and social anxiety,”
  6. (2010). Affect, social pressure and prosocial motivation: field experimental evidence of the mobilizing effects of pride, shame and publicizing voting behavior,”
  7. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibilities,”
  8. (1996). Chinese childhood socialization,” in The Psychology of Chinese
  9. (1992). Communities that Care, Jossey-Bass,
  10. (1966). Compliance without pressure: the foot-in-the-door technique,”
  11. (1999). Consistency and development of prosocial dispositions: a longitudinal study,”
  12. (2004). Culture and Psychotherapy,
  13. (1983). Dimensions of Helping Behaviour,
  14. (2006). Does a “norm of selfinterest” discourage prosocial behavior? Rationality and quid pro quo in charitable giving,”
  15. (1999). Early adolescence and prosocial/moral behavior I: the role of individual processes,”
  16. (2003). Effects of a school-based program that enhance prosocial development on children’s peer relations and social adjustment,”
  17. (1981). Effects of friendship on prosocial intentions and behavior,”
  18. (1981). Emergency Intervention,
  19. (2010). Explaining prosocial intentions: testing causal relationships in the norm activation model,”
  20. (2009). Exposure to violent video games and aggression in German adolescents: a longitudinal analysis,”
  21. (1989). i s e n be r ga n dP .H .M u s s e n ,The Roots of Prosocial Behavior in Children,
  22. (2008). I.E.deHooge,S.M.Breugelmans,andM.Zeelenberg,“Notso uglyafterall:whenshameactsasacommitmentevice,”Journal ofPersonalityandSocialPsychology,vol.95,no.4,pp.933–943,
  23. (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development,
  24. (2007). Longitudinal relations among parental emotional expressivity and sympathy and prosocial behavior
  25. (2009). Morality and prosocial behavior: the role of awareness, responsibility, and norms in the norm activation model,”
  26. (1991). N.Eisenberg,“Meta-analyticcontributionstotheliteratureon prosocial behavior,”
  27. (2002). Positive youth development in the United States: research findings on evaluations of positive youth developmentprograms,”PreviousTreatment,vol.5,pp.1–111,
  28. (2002). Prosocial Behavior,
  29. (1995). Prosocial development in late adolescence: a longitudinal study,”
  30. (1987). Prosocial development in middle childhood:
  31. (2007). Ready to make nice: parental socialization of young sons’ and daughters’ prosocial behaviors with peers,”
  32. (2003). Responsible behavior: the importance of social cognition and emotion,”
  33. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: implications for substance abuse prevention,”
  34. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control,F r e e m a n ,
  35. (1978). Sex differences in the complexity of children’s play and games,”
  36. (2002). Sociability and prosocial orientation as predictors of youth adjustment: a seven-year longitudinal study in a Chinese sample,”
  37. (2004). Society: The Basics, Pearson Education,
  38. (1991). The Altruism Question: Towards a Social SocialPsychological Answer,
  39. (1992). The development of prosocial behavior,”
  40. (2011). The development of prosocial behaviors in young children: a prospective population-based cohort study,”
  41. The effects of interpersonal trust and group status on prosocial and aggressive behaviors,” Social Behavior and Personality,v o l .2 4 ,n o .2 ,p p . 169–184, 1996.The Scientific World
  42. (2009). The effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behaviors: international evidence from correlational, longitudinal, and experimental studies,”
  43. (2004). The genetic side of gene-culture coevolution: internalization of norms and prosocial emotions,”
  44. (2009). The his and hers of prosocial behavior: an examination of the social psychology of gender,”
  45. (1974). The Psychology of Sex Differences,
  46. (2003). The relation of moral orientation and moral judgment to prosocial and antisocial behaviour of Chinese adolescents,”
  47. (1984). The relationship of moral judgment to moral action,” in Morality, Moral Behavior, and Moral
  48. (2006). The Social Psychology of Prosocial Behavior, Lawrence Erlbaum Associate Publishers,
  49. (1970). The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn’t He Help? Prentice-Hall,
  50. (2010). When helping helps: autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient,”

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.