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

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

Abstract

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: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3361333
Provided by: PubMed Central

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