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‘Prosociality’ in Daily School Life and Early Adolescents’ Peer Aggression: A Multilevel Latent Profile Analysis Approach

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We aimed to typify prosocial characteristics of aggressive youth. We classified early adolescents based on daily configurations of prosocial behavior and autonomous prosocial motivations (performing prosocial behavior for identified and intrinsic reasons) and controlled prosocial motivations (performing prosocial behavior for external and introjected reasons) and explored the links between the obtained sub-groups and peer aggression. The sample included 242 Israeli six-graders [Mage = 11.96 (SD = 0.18), 50% girls] and their teachers. At the daily level, adolescents self-reported on prosocial behaviors and their autonomous and controlled prosocial motivations for ten consecutive days. At the trait level, adolescents reported on global, reactive, and proactive peer aggression. Teachers reported on adolescents’ global peer aggression. Using multilevel latent profile analysis, we identified four day-level profiles of prosociality: ‘high prosocial autonomous’ (39% of days), ‘low prosocial’ (35%), ‘average prosocial controlled’ (14%), and ‘high prosocial bi-motivation’ (13%). At the adolescent level, we identified four sub-groups, each characterized by one dominant daily profile: ‘stable high autonomy’ (33% of adolescents); ‘stable high bi-motivation’ (12%); ‘often average controlled’ (16%); ‘often low’ (39%). Higher self-reported aggressive adolescents, particularly proactive aggressive, had the least chance of being in the ‘stable high autonomy’ sub-group of all sub-groups. Teacher-reported aggressive adolescents had the least likelihood of being in the ‘stable high autonomy’ sub-group and the most likelihood of being in the ‘often low’ sub-group. In sum, peer aggression is a function of the configured phenomenology of prosocial behavior and motivations, with high prosocial autonomously motivated youth being the least aggressive.

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  1. Prosocial behavior reflects engagement level in prosocial acts.

  2. We refer to the combination of prosocial behavior and motivation as ‘prosociality’.

  3. In accordance with ethical considerations, the study did not ask students about family income or parental education.

  4. In a parallel series of models, we estimated the covariances among latent profile indicators, holding these equal across profiles. This set of solutions yielded profiles and fit indices similar to those of the more parsimonious model (i.e., covariances were set to zero) and is presented in Table S3 in the Supplemental Material. Models with freely estimated indicators variances did not converge.

  5. Additional analyses on sex difference in Level 2 sub-groups are listed in Supplemental Materials (Table S2 and Figure S1 in Supplemental Material). Tests of potential influences of adolescents nested within school classes did not normally converge. Considering the small variation in study constructs at the school class level, it is less likely that school class assignment strongly influenced the results (see Table S1 in Supplemental Materials).


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Correspondence to Reout Arbel.

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Arbel, R., Xia, M., Ben-Yehuda, M. et al. ‘Prosociality’ in Daily School Life and Early Adolescents’ Peer Aggression: A Multilevel Latent Profile Analysis Approach. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol 51, 1371–1387 (2023).

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