Brazilian Adolescents' Prosocial Moral Judgment and Behavior: Relations to Sympathy, Perspective Taking, Gender-Role Orientation, and Demographic Characteristics

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Abstract

The goal of this study was to examine demographic and individual difference variables that predict level of prosocial moral judgment and self-reported prosocial behavior and to test mediating or moderating relations among predictors. The relations of prosocial moral reasoning and self-reported prosocial behavior to perspective taking, sympathy, age, sociometric status, and gender-role orientation were examined with a sample of 149 Brazilian adolescents who completed a series of questionnaire measures. Prosocial moral judgment was expected to be predicted by both sympathy and perspective taking, whereas sympathy or prosocial moral judgment was expected to mediate the relations of femininity and perspective taking to prosocial behavior. Self-reported perspective taking and sympathy interacted when predicting prosocial moral judgment; adolescents who were high in either sympathy or perspective taking (or both) scored high in prosocial moral reasoning. A feminine orientation predicted sympathy and perspective taking, perspective taking predicted prosocial moral reasoning and sympathy, and sympathy had both direct and indirect paths (through moral judgment) to prosocial behavior. The findings generally were consistent with the contention that both the tendency to take others' perspectives and to sympathize are related to level of prosocial moral reasoning, which in turn motivates prosocial behavior. Moreover, patterns of correlations among variables were similar to those found in the United States.

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