Origina Paper

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 337-349

First online:

Two Sides of the Same Coin? The Relations between Prosocial and Physically Aggressive Behaviors

  • Meredith McGinleyAffiliated withis graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include positive social and moral behaviors in children and adolescents and methodology. Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Email author 
  • , Gustavo CarloAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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The direct and indirect relations between six types of prosocial behavior and physical aggression were examined. Data were gathered from 252 college students (M age = 21.67 years; 184 women) who completed measures of sympathy, prosocial behavior, and physical aggression. Structural equation modeling revealed that sympathy fully mediated the relations between compliant prosocial behaviors and physical aggression, and partially mediated the relations between altruism and physical aggression and public prosocial behaviors and physical aggression. The findings suggest that the relations between prosocial behaviors and aggression are complex and that prosocial behavior should not be treated as a unitary construct.


Prosocial behaviors Sympathy Aggression Adolescence Methodology