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With a Little Help from Their Peers: The Impact of Classmates on Adolescents' Development of Prosocial Behavior.

Authors
  • Busching, Robert1
  • Krahé, Barbara2
  • 1 University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. [email protected] , (Germany)
  • 2 University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2020
Volume
49
Issue
9
Pages
1849–1863
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10964-020-01260-8
PMID: 32529342
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Peer groups are critical socialization agents for the development of social behavior in adolescence, but studies examining peer-group effects on individuals' prosocial behavior are scarce. Using a two-wave, multilevel data set (N = 16,893, 8481 male; 8412 female; mean age at Time 1: 14.0 years) from 1308 classes in 252 secondary schools in Germany, main effects of the classroom level of prosocial behavior, cross-level interactions between the classroom and the individual levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1, and the moderating role of gender were examined. The results showed that adolescents in classrooms with high collective levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1 reported more prosocial behavior at Time 2, about two years later, reflecting a class-level main effect. A significant cross-level interaction indicated that a high classroom level of prosocial behavior particularly affected individuals with lower levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1. The influence of same-gender peers was larger compared with opposite-gender peers. The findings are discussed with respect to social learning mechanisms in the development of prosocial behavior and their implications for interventions to promote prosocial behavior.

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