Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Early Adolescence, 19:1 (February 1999), pp. 5-16. Copyright © 1999 Sage Publications, Inc. Used by permission.


In this introductory article, the purpose of the special issue on prosocial and moral development during early adolescence is presented. This issue is the first of two special issues and focuses on the role that individual processes play in influencing young adolescents’ prosocial and moral development. Presented also is a new meta-analysis of data on age and gender differences in prosocial behavior with particular focus on early adolescence. It was found that prosocial behavior during adolescence rarely has been studied, but that there are general increases in prosocial behavior during this time when compared with early age periods. Moreover, gender differences in prosocial behavior (favoring girls) increase during this time. A relatively short review of the individual mechanisms by which these changes occur follow. A call for more research and suggestions for future directions in this research also is provided.