Developmental pattern of prosocial motivation: A Cross-National Study

Klaus Boehnke, Rainer K. Silbereisen, Nancy Eisenberg, Janusz Reykowski, Augusto Palmonari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Changes in patterns of prosocial motivation between Grades 2 and 12 were examined in five samples from four countrics: West Germany, Poland, Italy,and the United States. The Prosocial Motivation Questionnaire (PSMQ), an instrument based on theoretical elaborations about evaluative standards operative in prosocial action, was used to assess within-subject preference for five prosocial motives: hedonism, self-interest, conformity, task orientation, and other-orientation. Studied were two samples from Berlin (West; average age range, 11-6 to 18-6 years) and one sample each from Warsaw (11-11 to 18-11), Bologna (11-6 to 18-11), and Phoenix, Arizona (8-4 to 13-4). The major results held for all cities studied and confirm the generalizability of earlier national findings. Specifically, the major findings were as follows: (1) extrinsic motives for prosocial acts (hedonism and self-interest) were least preferred, whereas intrinsic motives (task and other-orientation) were most highly valued, and conformity was always in between; (2) preference for hedonism decreased in the younger samples, preference for conformity decreased in the older samples, and age-related increases were found only for task orientation; and (3) gender differences emerged at age 12, thus confirming prior findings that girls prefer intrinsic motives more than boys do.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-243
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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