Fostering prosocial behavior and empathy in young children

Tracy Spinrad, Diana E. Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in understanding ways to foster young children's prosocial behavior (i.e. voluntary acts to benefit another). We begin this review by differentiating between types of prosocial behavior, empathy, and sympathy. We argue that sympathy and some types of prosocial behaviors are most likely intrinsically motivated, whereas other types of prosocial behaviors may be extrinsically motivated. Next, we highlight work focusing on the socialization practices that have been found to predict individual differences in young children's prosocial behavior and concern for others. Although work in the area is limited, we also review some intervention programs that have shown effectiveness in improving young children's positive social behaviors. We conclude with areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-44
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Fostering prosocial behavior and empathy in young children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this