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Keywords:

  • prosocial behavior;
  • effortful control;
  • adolescence;
  • early adulthood;
  • longitudinal analysis;
  • individual differences

Abstract

Objective

The present longitudinal study examined the development of self-reported prosociality (i.e., the tendency to enact prosocial behaviors) from adolescence to early adulthood and its prediction from teacher-reported effortful control (i.e., dispositional regulation) at age 13.

Method

Participants were 573 (276 girls) Italian adolescents aged approximately 13 (M = 12.98, SD = 0.80) at the first assessment and 21 (M = 21.23, SD = 0.67) at the last assessment. The study used three different cohorts recruited across ten years (from1994 to 2004) from a larger longitudinal project with a multiple-cohort design.

Results

Latent growth curve modeling indicated that the overall level of prosociality declined until approximately age 17 with a subsequent slight rebound until age 21. Significant inter-individual variability in developmental trends of prosociality in males and females was observed. Youths' effortful control was related to a lesser decline of prosociality in adolescence.

Conclusions

Being able to regulate one's own emotions and behaviors in early adolescence may not only affect the tendency to behave prosocially, but also counter the self-centered tendencies observed across this phase of development.