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Prosocial and antisocial children's perceptions of peers' motives for prosocial behaviours

Wardle, Georgina A. and Hunter, Simon C. and Warden, David (2011) Prosocial and antisocial children's perceptions of peers' motives for prosocial behaviours. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 29 (3). pp. 396-408.

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This study investigated whether peer-nominated prosocial and antisocial children have different perceptions of the motives underlying peers' prosocial actions. Eighty-seven children, aged 10-12 years old, completed peer-nomination measures of social behaviour. On the basis of numbers of social nominations received, a subsample of 51 children (32 who were peer-nominated as 'prosocial', and 18 who were peer-nominated as 'antisocial') then recorded their perceptions of peers' motives for prosocial behaviours. Expressed motives were categorized predominantly into three categories, coinciding with Turiel's (1978) 'moral', 'conventional', and 'personal domains'. Results indicate that children's social reputation is associated with the extent to which they perceive peers' prosocial motives as 'personal' or 'moral', with more prosocial children attributing moral motives, and more antisocial children attributing personal motives. Although traditionally Turiel's domain theory has been used to understand 'antisocial' children's behaviour, the current findings suggest that 'prosocial' children's behaviour may also be related to domains of judgment.