Roots, Motives, and Patterns in Children’s Prosocial Behavior

  • Marian Radke-Yarrow
  • Carolyn Zahn-Waxler
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (BLSC, volume 31)


Prosocial behavior is a matter of ancient as well as modern interest. The long history of philosophy and social thought about the “goodness” of human nature makes us aware that current empirical research and the theories upon which it is based are not fashioned de novo but have their origins in these predecessors. Human nature has been variously regarded. It has been viewed as innately endowed with feelings of compassion in Confucian philosophy (Chan, 1963), as naturally virtuous and with a communal sense of seif (Rousseau, 1755/1952), as waging a war of all against all and as based on rational self-interest (Hobbes, 1651/1952). Accordingly, children have been variously regarded and reared, and, perhaps, as a result, they have been variously prosocial.


Prosocial Behavior Individual Child Distressed Person Developmental Progression Affective Distress 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marian Radke-Yarrow
    • 1
  • Carolyn Zahn-Waxler
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Developmental PsychologyNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA

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