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Children's social companions and positive social behaviors in two cultures: A re -analysis of the Six Cultures data

Maria Rosario T de Guzman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Prosocial behaviors are acts intended to benefit others. While research indicates cross-cultural differences in children's performance of those acts, the processes underlying those patterns remain unclear. One way by which culture intersects with cultural socialization for prosocial development is through the contexts in which children participate. The current study examines prosocial behaviors of US and Philippine children, and the role of social companions in predicting those behaviors. ^ Materials for this archival study are behavioral observations drawn from the Six Cultures Study (Whiting & Whiting, 1975). The US data consisted of 539 five-minute observations of 16 children (9 girls, 7 boys), ranging in age from four- to 11-years (M = 6.86, SD = 2.50). The Philippine data consisted of 612 observations of 25 children (13 boys, 12 girls), ranging in age from three- to 10-years (M age = 5.90, SD = 2.10). Data were coded for instances of prosocial behaviors and their antecedents (spontaneous or non-spontaneous), as well as the characteristics of recipients (age and relationship to actor). Results of a series of mixed group ANOVA revealed patterns of differences consistent with the availability of companions, such that a higher number of prosocial behaviors were displayed towards those who were more often present, but also differences favoring particular groups of recipients earlier identified as more likely to receive aid. For instance, Philippine children were most prosocial towards infants and adults, and towards relatives than non-relatives. In contrast, US children showed more prosocial behaviors towards non-relatives than relatives, and peers and adults. Contrary to hypotheses, children showed more spontaneous than non-spontaneous prosocial acts, regardless of age and gender, and recipient of the act. Finally, age differences emerged in the performance of prosocial acts, again consistent with the availability of companions for those groups. Discussion focuses on the roles of contexts, particularly children's social companions in understanding prosocial behaviors, and the need to incorporate proximal processes into cross-cultural research on prosocial development. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

de Guzman, Maria Rosario T, "Children's social companions and positive social behaviors in two cultures: A re -analysis of the Six Cultures data" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3152604.