Skip to main content

Prosocial Action in Very Early Childhood

  • Dale F. Hay (a1), Jenny Castle (a2), Lisa Davies (a2), Helen Demetriou (a2) and Carol A. Stimson (a3)...
    • Published online: 01 September 1999

We tested a model of prosocial development, which predicted that prosocial action might decline, not increase, throughout childhood, becoming increasingly selective, individual, gender-related, and linked to emotional dysregulation. Sixty-six focal children at 18, 24, or 30 months of age were observed at home with familiar peers and then again 6 months later. Episodes of peer interaction were analysed for instances of sharing. The predicted decline in sharing with age was qualified by cohort differences and many associations with gender. Most children shared less as they grew older, but the oldest girls slightly increased their rate of sharing over time. As peer relationships developed, girls were more likely to share with other girls; boys were more likely to show reciprocity in sharing. Individual differences in sharing were moderately stable over time and linked to another form of prosocial action, sensitivity to the peer's distress. As predicted, children who shared at higher rates were rated more negatively by their mothers. The positive relationship between prosocial action and mothers' ratings of negative personality traits was especially strong for boys.

Corresponding author
Requests for reprints to: Dr Dale F. Hay, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge, 8–9 Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA, U.K.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
  • ISSN: 0021-9630
  • EISSN: 1469-7610
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-psychology-and-psychiatry-and-allied-disciplines
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed