Prosocial behavior fosters positive traits that are beneficial for children and society. Evolutionary psychologists use theories such as kin-selection theory and inclusive fitness as an explanation for why prosocial behavioral tendencies are passed down generationally, according modeling with children up to years the evolutionary fitness displayed by those who engaged in prosocial acts. Although the term “prosocial behavior” is often associated with developing desirable traits in children, the literature on the topic has grown since the late 1980s to include adult behaviors as well.
According to the psychology researcher C. Daniel Batson, the term “was created by social scientists as an antonym for antisocial. The purest forms of prosocial behavior are motivated by altruism, an unselfish interest in helping another person. According to Santrock, the circumstances most likely to evoke altruism are empathy for an individual in need, or a close relationship between the benefactor and the recipient.
Prosocial behavior is mediated by both situational and individual factors. One of the most common situation factors is the occurrence of the bystander effect. The bystander effect is the phenomenon that an individual’s likelihood of helping decreases when passive bystanders are present in a critical situation. The decision model of bystander intervention noted that whether or not an individual gives aid in a situation depends upon their analysis of the situation. An individual will consider whether or not the situation requires their assistance, if the assistance is the responsibility of the individual, and how to help. Believe they have skills to succeed.
Reach a conscious decision to help. The number of individuals present in the situation requiring help is also a mediating factor in one’s decision to give aid, where the more individuals are present, the less likely it is for one particular individual to give aid due to a reduction in perceived personal responsibility. People are also more likely to help those in their social group, or their “in group”. With a sense of shared identity with the individual requiring assistance, the altruist is more likely to provide help, on the basis that one allocates more time and energy towards helping behavior within individuals of their own group.