Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Prosocial Behavior

  • Mary LewisEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_158-1



Any action that benefits another organism regardless of intent or motivation


Prosocial behavior, as a voluntary action intended to benefit another (Eisenberg et al. 2006), is multidimensional in form, motivation, cause, and consequence (c.f. Padilla-Walker and Carlo 2014). Sharing, comforting, cooperating, helping, rescuing, and donating are among positive behaviors that benefit others. Motives may vary as a function of recipients (kin versus non-kin), contexts (relational, familial, cultural, or physical), and goals (other-oriented versus self-oriented). The term, “prosocial,” is distinguished from “altruistic” because the psychological motivation underlying their enactment differs (Carlo 2014). Whereas prosocial behavior includes both other-oriented motivations (empathic concern, internalized values) and self-oriented motivations (opportunism, reputation enhancement, good feelings about the self),...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tara DeLecce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochester HillsUSA