Consistency and development of prosocial dispositions: A longitudinal study

Nancy Eisenberg, Ivanna K. Guthrie, Bridget C. Murphy, Stephanie A. Shepard, Amanda Cumberland, Gustavo Carlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


The issue of whether there is consistency in prosocial dispositions was examined with a longitudinal data set extending from ages 4 to 5 years into early adulthood (N = 32). Spontaneous prosocial behaviors observed in the preschool classroom predicted actual prosocial behavior, other-and self-reported prosocial behavior, self-reported sympathy, and perspective taking in childhood to early adulthood. Prosocial behaviors that were not expected to reflect an other-orientation (i.e., low cost helping and compliant prosocial behavior) generally did not predict later prosocial behavior or sympathy. Sympathy appeared to partially mediate the relation of early spontaneous sharing to later prosocial dispositions. The results support the view that there are stable individual differences in prosocial responding that have their origins in early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1360-1372
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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