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Examining the Diversity of Prosocial Behavior: Helping, Sharing, and Comforting in Infancy


should be sent to Kristen Dunfield, Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, 62 Arch Street, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada. E-mail:


Prosocial behaviors are a diverse group of actions that are integral to human social life. In this study, we examined the ability of 18- and 24-month-old infants to engage in three types of other-oriented behaviors, specifically helping, sharing, and comforting. Infants in both age groups engaged in more prosocial behavior on trials in which an unfamiliar adult experimenter required aid (experimental conditions) than on those in which she did not (control conditions) across two of the three prosocial tasks (i.e., helping and sharing). The infants engaged in these behaviors with similar frequency; however, there was no correlation between the tasks. The implications for the construct of prosocial behavior and the presence of a prosocial disposition are discussed.