The development of prosociality from adolescence to early adulthood: The role of effortful control

Bernadette P. Luengo Kanacri, Concetta Pastorelli, Nancy Eisenberg, Antonio Zuffianò, Gian Vittorio Caprara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Objective: The present longitudinal study examined the development of self-reported prosociality (i.e., the tendency to enact prosocial behaviors) from adolescence to early adulthood and its prediction from teacher-reported effortful control (i.e., dispositional regulation) at age 13. Method: Participants were 573 (276 girls) Italian adolescents aged approximately 13 (M=12.98, SD=0.80) at the first assessment and 21 (M=21.23, SD=0.67) at the last assessment. The study used three different cohorts recruited across ten years (from1994 to 2004) from a larger longitudinal project with a multiple-cohort design. Results: Latent growth curve modeling indicated that the overall level of prosociality declined until approximately age 17 with a subsequent slight rebound until age 21. Significant inter-individual variability in developmental trends of prosociality in males and females was observed. Youths' effortful control was related to a lesser decline of prosociality in adolescence. Conclusions: Being able to regulate one's own emotions and behaviors in early adolescence may not only affect the tendency to behave prosocially, but also counter the self-centered tendencies observed across this phase of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-312
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Adolescence
  • Early adulthood
  • Effortful control
  • Individual differences
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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