Boothby, Erica J. Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Clark, Margaret S. Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
- Categorizing prosocial behavior
- Observations and analyses
- Relational context
- Prosocial behavior in human infants and nonhuman primates
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Prosocial behavior is any behavior intended to promote (or prevent declines in) another person's welfare. It comes in many varieties, from the rare case of saving the life of a stranger to more mundane behaviors like giving a parent a hug, holding a door open for someone, or listening to a friend's problems. It also includes giving goods, services, information, advice, or money to other people. However, prosocial behavior also includes actions with less tangible benefits, such as expressing affection, recognizing others' accomplishments, and celebrating the source of another's positive emotions with that person. Even intentionally refraining from doing something one would ordinarily do, so somebody else benefits, is a form of prosocial behavior. Refraining from eating the last piece of pie so that another person can enjoy it is a prosocial act. Behavior can also be prosocial even if it does not succeed in benefiting someone. Hunting for a friend's lost wallet, even if it is never found, and striving to comfort someone who is beyond consolation count as prosocial actions. On the flip side, behavior that benefits another person is not prosocial if it was not intended to support that person's welfare. Dropping a $20 bill that another person finds and keeps is not prosocial if one did not intend to drop it for that person's benefit.
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