Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Prosocial development: A multidimensional approach, edited by Laura M. Padilla-Walker and Gustavo Carlo (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 221-241.


Copyright © 2014 Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


In 1976 Beatrice Whiting famously urged researchers to “unpackage” the concept of culture and related constructs. She highlighted the need in social and behavioral research to tease out the complex and often interwoven factors that might underlie superficial culture group differences in child outcomes and suggested looking more closely at the child’s learning environment, the details within which could provide important insight regarding children’s behaviors that could better explain how culture might be manifested in the developmental landscape (Whiting, 1976). Almost 40 years later, the importance of culture in children’s development is widely recognized, nonetheless researchers continue to wrestle with questions of what role culture plays in socialization, how it is manifested, and consequently how to measure its effects on child outcomes. In this chapter, we review current research on the interplay between culture and prosocial behavior and attempt to identify future directions toward this end.