Prosocial Development in Late Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study

Nancy Eisenberg, G. Carlo, B. Murphy, P. Van Court

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


Change in prosocial moral reasoning over 15 years, gender differences in prosocial reasoning, and the interrelations of moral reasoning, prosocial behavior, and empathy‐related emotional responses were examined with longitudinal data from 17–18‐ and 19–20‐year‐olds and data from adolescents interviewed for the first time. Hedonistic reasoning declined in use until adolescence, and then increased somewhat in early adulthood. Needs‐oriented and stereotypic reasoning increased until mid‐childhood or early adolescence and then declined in use. Direct reciprocity and approval reasoning, which appeared to be on the decline in mid‐adolescence in previous follow‐ups, showed no decline into early adulthood. Several modes of higher‐level reasoning increased in use across adolescence and early adulthood. Females' overall reasoning was higher than males'. Scores on interview and objective measures of prosocial moral reasoning were positively correlated. Consistent with expectations, there was some evidence of relations among prosocial reasoning, prosocial behavior, sympathy, and perspective taking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1197
Number of pages19
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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