Research into the effects of sad mood on prosocial action is reviewed and is used as a vehicle for examining the transformation of altruism from a punishing to a gratifying event. A three-step model of the socialization of altruism as a reinforcer is proposed. The model argues for (a) an initial stage (presocialization) in which altruism occurs rarely among young children because of its punishing function, (b) a second stage (awareness of norms) in which altruism functions as a mechanism for the receipt of positive sanctions, and (c) a final stage (internalization) in which, by adulthood, altruism has acquired a gratifying function through its status as a conditioned reinforcer. Evidence for the functional equivalence of self-gratification and adult altruism is also presented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health