Understanding prosocial development from a domains of socialization perspective
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Understanding Prosocial Development from a Domains-of-Socialization Perspective. Joan E. Grusec University of Toronto VAN DER GAAG SYMPOSIUM June 24, 2014 Homo Empathicus : Dissecting the Warm Glow of prosocial behavior. What is socialization?.

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Understanding Prosocial Development from a Domains-of-Socialization Perspective

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Understanding prosocial development from a domains of socialization perspective

Understanding Prosocial Development from a Domains-of-Socialization Perspective

Joan E. Grusec

University of Toronto


Homo Empathicus: Dissecting the Warm Glow of prosocial behavior

What is socialization

What is socialization?

  • The process whereby more experienced members of the group assist less experienced ones to acquire the group’s values, attitudes, and actions. Can occur in any group.

  • There are many different kinds of values: some are moral (e.g., not hurting others, helping others/prosocial) and some are not (e.g., work ethic, respect for authority, being independent, looking after one’s own health and safety).

  • The goal of socialization is to produce individuals who have INTERNALIZED a value

Domains of socialization grusec davidov 2010 child development

Domains of Socialization (Grusec & Davidov, 2010), Child Development

- the nature of the parent-child relationship differs in different domains

- different parenting behaviors are required depending on domain

- different mechanisms operate in each domain

- the outcomes are different in different domains

Control baumrind barber

Control – Baumrind, Barber

  • Authority relationship

  • Reward or punishment applied appropriately to gain compliance

  • Self-control acquired

Protection ainsworth bowlby

Protection – Ainsworth, Bowlby

  • Provider/recipient of protection

  • Alleviate child’s distress

  • Confidence in protection, trust

R eciprocity maccoby

Reciprocity - Maccoby

  • Exchange/equality

  • Comply with reasonable requests

  • Innate tendency to reciprocate

Guided learning vygotsky

Guided learning - Vygotsky

  • Teacher/student

  • Teach in zone of proximal development

  • Internalization of teacher’s approach

Group participation bandura

Group participation - Bandura

  • Members of same social group

  • Model behavior, manage the child’s environment, encourage ritual and routine

  • Sense of social identity acquired

What is the motivation for prosocial behavior in each domain

What is the motivation for prosocial behavior in each domain?

  • Control: avoidance of punishment/guilt or hope of reward/approval

  • Protection: reduction of sympathetic distress

  • Reciprocity: exchange of favors

  • Guided learning: internalization of the beliefs of a teacher

  • Group participation: feeling part of the social group

Under what conditions will prosocial behavior happen

Under what conditions will prosocial behavior happen?

  • Control: in public view

  • Protection: when distress of other is evident

  • Reciprocity: when opportunity for reciprocity is clear

  • Guided learning: under any condition

  • Group participation: under any condition

Questions about value learning and moral prosocial value learning in particular julia vinik

Questions about value learning and moral/prosocial value learning in particular Julia Vinik

  • Are some values more likely to be learned in certain domains?

  • Are values more likely to be internalized in certain domains?



  • Emerging adults (N=294) of Western European, South Asian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern).

  • asked to produce a narrative about a time when their primary caregiver(s) was successful in teaching them a value that they took in and applied to the way they led their life. Event should be at least a year old.



  • “It was during a winter month and my mother slipped on the ice. She injured her left arm and left leg so she wasn't able to move around as much. During the weekend, my sister and I took turns taking care of her. I made her breakfast and lunch and I helped her do daily chores. I received a lot of praise from her and she was really thankful that I helped her.(Memory from age 13 years).



There was this fight between my two close friends (one was Muslim, the other was Hindu). They both started accusing the other of doing crimes because of her religion. Both came and talked to me about this. I was very confused and upset because I trusted both of them and although it seemed like a bad thing that they were saying, I couldn’t help believing some of it. I came to my mother and father and talked to them about it. They both told me that I shouldn’t take sides for there was wrong in what both my friends were doing, but I had to stick with them and talk this out. They told me that religion shouldn’t come between friendship in such bad ways and that it was also wrong to accuse someone because of their religion. Afterwards my parents arranged for both my friends and their parents and us to meet together and we talked it out. (Memory from age 14 years)



Guided learning

Guided Learning

  • I was in my community church and the priest told the parish that next week

  • there was going to be a share life collection, which is a collection for starving

  • third world countries when going home after church i asked my father why we

  • had to give our money away to other people. that if we gave our money away i

  • couldn’t get all the toys that i wanted. he then told me a story from when he was

  • a little boy in a little village near Lyon. he told me that he had 7 other brothers

  • and sisters and that come dinner time he would have a tiny piece of bread with

  • the smallest piece of meat that you can possibly imagine. he told me but it was

  • enough so that nobody starved. now that his situation is not the same that he is

  • older and that he has more than enough food and money, he told me that you

  • must not forget about other people. they still go through those hardships everyday.

  • just because we are not in those predicaments, we should turn a blind eye to

  • others. we must help them, so that they do not starve or go through unnecessary

  • hardships. the next week i was more than happy to put money in the collection

  • basket. (Memory from age ten years)

Group participation

Group Participation

  • “One night, my father and I were in the car, driving back home from an event. On the way, we saw this lady whose car was stuck in the middle of the road, and she was struggling to remove something from underneath her car. We could have just driven past her car, as there was enough space to do so. Instead, my father stopped our car and went towards the lady's car to help her remove the basket stuck under her car. Within a few minutes, the basket was removed and the lady was able to drive easily.”(Memory from age 10 years.)

Number of narratives in each domain

Number of narratives in each domain

Proportions of content of lessons within each domain

Proportions of Content of Lessons within each Domain.

Assessment of internalization

Assessment of internalization

  • Meaningful processing: high coherence including discussion of thoughts and feelings

  • Reasons for success: 1) made me think 2) I agreed 3) felt bad (empathy) 4) guilt 5) trusted their knowledge 6) trusted they had my best interests at heart 7) afraid of punishment

Understanding prosocial development from a domains of socialization perspective

Percent of narratives with evidence of meaningful

processing, cognitive processing, and fear of




  • Values are learned successfully in different domains (except reciprocity), with most learning occurring in the control domain.

  • Control: inhibition of antisocial behavior.

  • Protection: prudential values.

  • Guided learning: work ethic.

  • Group participation: prosocial values.


Q and a

Q and A

  • What constitutes the “warm glow”: when the action confirms one’s identity as a member of a prosocial group, when it is seen as in accord with one’s own principles, when sympathetic distress is reduced, to gain approval

  • Which elements make people glow warmer: intrinsically motivated actions (particularly group participation).

  • Which of these ingredients burns up faster? Approval, sympathetic distress

Q and a1

Q and A

How are different motivations connected to different sorts of prosocial behavior?

  • hope of social approval or disapprovalpublic prosocial behavior

  • empathyassisting those in distress

  • expectation of reciprocityhelpinglocally

  • perceiving the self as a moral personmultiple forms of prosocial behavior

  • identifying with the social groupmultiple forms of prosocial behavior (those performed by the group)

Q and a2

Q and A

How are motivations contingent on historical events?

  • child-rearing fashions

  • current value systems being modeled or taught in society at large (e.g., it’s not right that so much wealth is held by 1% of the population; Warren Buffett and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation)

Q and a3

Q and A

What does this tell us about the evolutionary origins of prosociality?

  • prosocial behavior evolves in different domains, e.g., protection ensures survival of offspring and hence reproductive success, group participation helps to identify members of the ingroup, reciprocity ensures assistance to nonkin, control involves access to resources.

Understanding prosocial development from a domains of socialization perspective

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