Thesis title: Prosocial Behavior in the High- and Low-and-Middle-Income Countries: from a Developmental to a Promotion Perspective
Empirical evidence showed the developmental benefits of Prosocial Behavior (PB, i.e., those voluntary actions aimed at benefiting others, such as helping, comforting, and sharing) in several areas of functioning (e.g., Hui et al., 2020). In particular, strengthening prosocial behavior during adolescence seems crucial to offer alternatives to risky conducts in a developmental window that leads to behavioral changes and improve potentiality because of the presence of the brain’s plasticity and the interaction between individuals’ resources and the extended social youths’ social world (Eisenberg et al., 2015; Lerner et al., 2015; Padilla-Walker & Carlo, 2014).
Recently, researchers have emphasized that prosocial literature mainly included studies conducted in industrialized, rich, and educated countries (i.e., High-Income Countries, HICs). In contrast, studies in socioeconomic contexts characterized by systemic inequalities such as Low-and-Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) are scarce (see Armstrong-Carter & Telzer, 2021).
The present thesis presented findings from three studies that analyze prosocial behavior from a developmental to a promotion perspective, including samples from LMICs largely underrepresented in prosocial literature.
The first study (Chapter II) analyzes differences between HICs and LMICs in the longitudinal trajectory of prosocial behavior. In detail, it explores the longitudinal trend and the growth process of the three main subtypes of prosocial behavior: helping, comforting, and sharing, spanning from late childhood to adolescence. The second study (Chapter III) ascertains the beneficial role of prosocial behavior on school success, comparing samples from HICs and LMICs. In detail, it examines the reciprocal longitudinal associations between prosocial behavior and school performance in the transition to adolescence. The third study (Chapter IV) evaluates the efficacy of the Italian universal school-based intervention program CEPIDEA adapted and implemented in three Colombian sites (Medellín, Manizales, and Santa Marta) in promoting prosocial behavior among adolescents. This study also drew attention to the effect of convergence or discrepancies across informants (i.e., self-report vs peer rating) in the evaluation of school-based intervention programs.
The present thesis gave an overview regarding the priority in researchers’ agenda to contribute to the literature on prosocial development in LMICs and promoting prosocial behavior as a crucial non-cognitive skill for positive youth development worldwide.