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Socialization of prosocial behavior: How parents encourage their children's helping

Waugh, Whitney (2013) Socialization of prosocial behavior: How parents encourage their children's helping. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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We investigated the techniques parents use to socialize prosocial behavior in young children, ages 18 and 24 months. Dyads participated in an everyday household-helping task in which parents encouraged their children to help clip cloths to a clothesline. Parental strategies for getting children to help were categorized into substantive categories (instrumental and empathic/emotional) and regulatory categories, including reinforcement. Children’s compliant engagement in the task was also coded. Results indicated that parents used a variety of strategies to socialize helping. While they were equally active in encouraging helping at both ages, they used different strategies depending on children’s age. At both ages parents emphasized instrumental, task-specific aspects of helping more than the emotional aspects, but used more instrumental requests and regulatory strategies with younger children. They used empathic/emotional encouragements equally often with younger and older children. They used a greater variety of techniques with younger children, particularly regulatory strategies, including gestures paired with verbalizations and attention getting strategies. Younger children were less compliantly engaged in the task than older children. When analyses were conducted controlling for compliant engagement, some results differed. Parents of older children used fewer encouragements than parents of younger children, but they used instrumental and empathic/emotional strategies equally often. Parents of younger children continued to use significantly more instrumental techniques than parents of older children, whereas parents of older children used more empathic/emotional techniques. Parents of 24 month olds used more reinforcement than did parents of 18 month olds and no longer differed in their use of attention getting techniques. Results indicate that parents actively socialize prosocial behavior and are sensitive to age and developmental differences, changing their strategies to differentially support their older and younger children.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Waugh, Whitneywew36@pitt.eduWEW36
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrownell, Celia A.Brownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberCampbell, Susansbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Committee MemberIverson, Janajiverson@pitt.eduJIVERSON
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 September 2012
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 13 April 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 66
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Socialization, Toddlers, Prosocial Behavior, Helping
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 17:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11


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