Prosocial development: A longitudinal study

Nancy Eisenberg, Randy Lennon, Karlsson Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Examined, using a longitudinal methodology, (1) the development of prosocial moral judgment and (2) the relation between prosocial moral judgment and both prohibition-oriented moral judgment and maternal childrearing practices. Three samples were tested: 33 82-99 mo olds were interviewed 3 times; 16 49-67 mo olds were interviewed twice; and 30 2nd graders were interviewed once. From preschool to elementary school years, needs-oriented (empathic) reasoning increased in frequency of use, whereas hedonistic reasoning decreased. Significant changes continued from the preschool years to 2nd grade, although change could be noted even before entry into school (over a 1-yr period from ages 4-5 to 5-6 yrs). The relation between level of prosocial reasoning and prohibition-oriented reasoning was low to moderate, depending on the measures that were intercorrelated. Level of reasoning was related to nonauthoritarian, nonpunitive maternal practices, but the role of empathic, supportive maternal practices appeared to change with age. (26 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-855
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1983


  • maternal childrearing practices, development of prosocial &
  • prohibition-oriented moral judgment, 4-8 yr olds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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