Generosity, Peer-Support, and Positive Development in Youth

  • Christoph SteinebachEmail author
  • Marcel Schaer
  • Imke Knafla


In adolescence, many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes bring along their own problems and risks. But they also offer the chance to develop new skills, including those connected with mindfulness, compassion, or generosity. Social relationships can support positive developments. Even in adolescence, family remains important, contributing to the satisfaction of basic needs. Peers can also support positive development and become particularly important in adolescence. With them, young people’s radius widens into a more comprehensive and differentiated social and physical environment. The newly acquired competences also promote the acceptance of responsibility. The social and physical environments become relevant learning fields for the integration of identity, values, and norms. Generosity as part of one’s own identity becomes a touchstone for positive development. In this paper, we discuss several forms and conditions of prosocial behavior as well as of generosity. We assign different internal conditions to “prosocial personality”, ranging from genetic or biological factors to self-efficacy. External factors for prosocial behavior and generosity are described. In everyday life, young people must feel needed and require places to show their new autonomous generosity skills. Being generous not only helps others: it also satisfies one’s own basic needs and thus contributes to positive development and well-being.


Developmental tasks Structures of peer relations Environmental systems Definition of generosity Citizenship 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Steinebach
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcel Schaer
    • 1
  • Imke Knafla
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Applied Psychology, ZHAW Zürich University of Applied SciencesZürichSwitzerland

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