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  • PSY1012 Prosocial and AntiSocial Behavior

Pro-Social and Anti-Social Behaviour (Routledge Modular Psychology)

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There has been recent emphasis on the importance of investigating prosocial and antisocial behavior simultaneously owing to doubts about whether examining one automatically gives information about the other. However, there has been little empirical research into this question. The present study (based on a large population sample of preadolescents, N = 2,230) simultaneously examines prosocial and antisocial behavior, explicitly including the possibility that children might show prosocial behavior according to one informant and antisocial behavior according to another. When parents and teachers agreed in their judgments, children were distinctly profiled and differed clearly in effortful control, intelligence, academic performance, and several peer nominations and family characteristics. The correlates were more rater-specific for children that were prosocial according to one informant and antisocial according to the other informant. Teachers and parents used different context-dependent criteria for judging children to be prosocial or antisocial. Academic performance and peer relations were related to the teacher's judgment of prosocial and antisocial behavior. By contrast, children's being problematic at home (and thus causing stress for the parents) was related to the parents' judgment.

This module will examine work at the cutting edge of contemporary research on prosocial and antisocial behaviour. In particular it will challenge the conventional wisdom that group processes make people more prone to violence and less prone to help each other. To participate effectively in the module you will need a background in traditional social psychological theories about group behaviour – and be ready to explore the human capacity for good and evil. The module will require you to interrogate and evaluate theory; to analyse real world examples of pro and antisocial behaviour; and to consider practical ways to tackle intractable social problems.


Research Matters / Promoting Adolescents' Prosocial Behavior

The purpose of this study was to explore whether video-game play can influence the antisocial and prosocial behaviors of the players. It was hypothesized that prosocial and antisocial behaviors would depend on the presence of violence in games. More prosocial behaviors were expected by those who played non-violent games; more antisocial behaviors were expected for those playing violent games. Male and female gamers from a wide range of age and racial/ethnic backgrounds at two arcades were observed for instances of prosocial and antisocial behaviors when playing against each other or teamed together against the computer. Observation took place for approximately 2 to 3 hours on each of three days. Chi-squared tests were used to compare for differences in behavior gamers exhibited in non-violent and violent games. Contrary to the hypothesis, no antisocial behavior was observed in the sample. Prosocial behavior was seen occasionally, but its appearance was not significantly different in violent and non-violent gamers, indicating that prosocial behavior was independent of game violence.