Prosocial Behavior: Long-term Trajectories and Psychosocial Outcomes


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Abstract

This study investigated developmental trajectories for prosocial behavior for a sample followed from the age of 10–18 and examined possible adjustment outcomes associated with membership in different trajectory groups. Participants were 136 boys and 148 girls, their teachers, and their parents (19.4 percent African-American, 2.4 percent Asian, 51.9 percent Caucasian, 19.5 percent Hispanic, and 5.8 percent other). Teachers rated children's prosocial behavior yearly in grades 4–12. At the end of the 12th grade year, teachers, parents, and participants reported externalizing behaviors and participants reported internalizing symptoms, narcissism, and features of borderline personality disorder. Results suggested that prosocial behavior remained stable from middle childhood through late adolescence. Group-based mixture modeling revealed three prosocial trajectory groups: low (18.7 percent), medium (52.8 percent), and high (29.6 percent). Membership in the high prosocial trajectory group predicted lower levels of externalizing behavior as compared with the low prosocial trajectory group, and for girls, lower levels of internalizing symptoms. Membership in the medium prosocial trajectory group also predicted being lower on externalizing behaviors. Membership in the high prosocial trajectory group predicted lower levels of borderline personality features for girls only.

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