Login | Register

The development of prosocial behaviours between siblings: Instrumental helping, sharing, comforting, and protecting


The development of prosocial behaviours between siblings: Instrumental helping, sharing, comforting, and protecting

Tavassoli, Nasim (2017) The development of prosocial behaviours between siblings: Instrumental helping, sharing, comforting, and protecting. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Tavassoli_MA_S2017.pdf - Accepted Version


The aim of this study was to investigate the development of prosocial behaviors between siblings in a naturalistic setting over a period of two years. This study examined (1) behavioral cues indicating siblings’ needs, (2) responses to siblings’ manifestations of need, and (3) engagement or failure to engage in prosocial behaviors. A total of 40 families with two children were observed in their homes at two time points; when they were 2- and 4-years and then 4- and 6-years of age. Siblings’ interactions were coded for 180 minutes at each time point. Overall, children often failed to express their needs explicitly and consequently, parents intervened frequently to clarify children’s ambiguous manifestations of need, although the children’s helping behavior did not depend on parental intervention. Children’s expressions of need changed over time and varied between siblings. Moreover, some behavioral cues such as nonverbal request and negative emotionality appeared to be more persuasive to siblings, as they elicited prosociality more than other cues. As children got older, they more often addressed implicit cues. Children engaged in helping and sharing more than comforting and protecting, and the theorized association between types of behavioral cues and children’s engagement in different forms of prosocial behavior was found. Children’s engagement in sharing was found to depend on its cost, as well as the ownership status of the contested resource. Overall, the findings illuminate how prosociality develops between siblings. Implications for parents and educators are discussed in terms of possible ways in which this development might be facilitated.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Tavassoli, Nasim
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Child Studies
Date:March 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Recchia, Holly
ID Code:982373
Deposited On:05 Jun 2017 16:00
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54


Abramovitch, R., Corter, C., & Lando, B. (1979). Sibling interaction in the home. Child Development, 50, 997-1003.
Abramovitch, R., Corter, C., Pepler, D. J., & Stanhope, L. (1986). Sibling and peer interaction: A final follow-up and a comparison. Child Development, 57, 217-229.
Alcalá, L., Rogoff, B., Mejía-Arauz, R., Coppens, A. D., Dexter, A. L. (2014). Children's initiative in contributions to family work in indigenous-heritage and cosmopolitan communities in Mexico. Human Development, 57, 96-115.
Berndt, T. (1985). Prosocial behavior between friends in middle childhood and early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 5(3), 307-317.
Bischof-Kohler, D. (2012). Empathy and self-recognition in phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspective. Emotion Review, 4(1), 40-48.
Brownell, C. A. (2011). Early developments in joint action. Rev.Phil.Psych.
Brownell, C. A., Iesue, S. S., Nichols, S. R., & Svetlova, M. (2013). Mine or yours? Development of sharing in toddlers in relation to ownership understanding. Child Development, 84(3), 906-920.
Brownell, C. A., Svetlova, M., & Nichols, S. (2009). To share or not to share: When do toddlers respond to another's need? Infancy, 14(1), 117-130.
Compass, B., Malcarne, V., & Fondacaro, K. (1988). Coping with stressful events in older children and younger adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(3), 405-411.
Dahl, A., Campos, J. J., & Witherington, D. C. (2011). Emotional action and communication in early moral development. Emotion Review, 3(2), 147-157.
Davidov, M., Zahn-Waxler, C., Roth-Hanania, R., & Knafo, A. (2013). Concern for others in the first year of life: Theory, evidence, and avenues for research. Child Development Perspective, 7(2), 126-131.
den Bark, I., Ross, H. (1996). "I'm telling!" The content, context, and consequences of children's tattling on their siblings. Social Development. 5(3), 292-309.
Dunfield, K. (2014, Sep). A construct divided: Prosocial behavior as helping, sharing, and comforting subtypes. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(958).
Dunfield, K., & Kuhlmeier, V. A. (2013). Classifying prosocial behavior: Children's responses to instrumental need, emotional distress, and material desire. Child Development, 00(0), 1-11.
Dunfield, K., Kuhlmeier, V. A., O'Connell, L., & Kelley, E. (2011). Examining the diversity of prosocial behavior: Helping, sharing, and comforting in infancy. Infancy, 16(3), 227-247.
Dunn, J. (1983). Sibling relationship in early childhood. Child Development, 54(4), 787-811.
Dunn, J., & Munn, P. (1986). Siblings and the development of prosocial behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9, 265-284.
Eisneberg, N., Spinard, T. L., & Knafo, A. (in press). Prosocial development. In M. Lamb, C. Garcia-Coll, & R. Lerner, Handbook of child development (7th ed ed.). New York: Willey.
Fehr, E., Bernhard, H., & Rockenback, B. (2008). Egalitarianism in young children. Nature, 454, 1079-1083.
Geraci, A., & Surian, L. (2011). The developmental roots of fairness: Infants' reactions to equal and unequal distributions of resources. Developmental Science, 14(5), 1012-1020.
Hamlin, K. J., Wynn, K., Bloom, P., & Mahajan, N. (2011). How infants and toddlers react to antisocial others. PNAS, 108(50), 19931-19936.
Hammond, S. I., & Carpendale, J. I. (2015). Helping children help: The relation between maternal scaffolding and children's early help. Social Development, 24 (2), 367-383. doi: 10.1111/sode.12104
Hay, D. F. (2006). Yours and mine: Toddlers' talk about possessions with familiar peers. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 24, 39-52.
Hay, D. F., & Cook, K. V. (2007). The transformation of prosocial behavior from infancy to childhood. In C. A. Brownell , & C. B. Kopp, Socioemotional development in the toddler years: Transitions and transformations. New York: Guilford Publication.
Haywood, K. (1980). Coincidence-anticipation accuracy across life span. Experimental Aging Research. 6(5), 451-462.
Hepach, R., Vaish, A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Young children sympathize less in response to unjustified emotional distress. Developmental Psychology, 49(6), 1132-1138.
Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge University Press.
Howe, N., & Rinaldi, C. M. (2004). 'You be the big sister': Maternal-preschooler internal state discourse, perspective-taking, and sibling caretaking. Infant and Child Development, 13, 217-234.
Howe, N., & Recchia, H. (2008). Siblings and sibling rivalry. In M. M. Haith & J. B. Benson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of infant and early childhood development, Vol. 3 (pp. 154-164). San Diego: Academic Press. 
Howe, N., Della Porta, S., Recchia, H., Funamoto, A., & Ross, H. (2015). "This bird can't do it 'cause this bird dosen't swim in water": Sibling teaching during naturalistic home observations in early childhood. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16(2), 314-332.
Kenward, B., & Gredeback, G. (2013, Sep). Infants help a non-human agent. PLOS One, 8(9), e75130.
Killen, M., & Smetana, J.G. (2015). Origins and development of morality. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science, Vol. 3, 7th edition (pp. 701-749). Editor-in-Chief, R. M. Lerner. NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Liszkowski, U., Carpenter, M., Striano, T., & Tomasello, M. (2006). 12- and 18-months-olds point to provide information for others. Journal of Cognition and Development, 7(2), 173-187.
McCrink, K., Bloom, P., & Santos, L. R. (2010). Children's and adults' judgments of equitable resource distributions. Developmental Science, 13(1), 37-45.
Moore, C. (2009). Fairness in children's resource allocation depends on the recipient. Psychological Science, 20(9), 944-948.
Nancekivell, S. E., Van de Vondervoort, J. W., & Friedman, O. (2013). Young children's understanding of ownership. Child Development Perspectives, 7(4), 243-247.
Newton, E. K., Goodman, M., & Thompson, R. A. (2014). Why do some toddlers help a stranger? Origins of individual differences in prosocial behavior. Infancy, 19(2), 214-226.
Paulus, M. (2014). The emergence of prosocial behavior: Why do infants and toddlers help, comfort, and share? Child Development Perspectives, 8(2), 77-81.
Paulus, M., Kühn-Popp, N., Licata, M., Sodian, B., Meinhardt, J. (2012). Neural correlates of prosocial behavior in infancy: Different neurophysiological mechanisms support the emergence of helping and comforting. NeuroImage, 66, 522-530.
Pepler, D. J., Abramovitch, R., & Corter, C. (1981). Sibling interaction in the home: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 52, 1344-1347.
Perlman, M., Ross, H. (2005). "If-then contingencies in children's siblings conflicts". Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 51(1), 42-66.
Pettygrove, D. M., Hammond, S. I., Karahuta, E. L., Waugh, W. E., & Brownell, C. A. (2013). From cleaning up to helping out: Parental socialization and children's early prosocial behvaior. Infant Behavior and Development, 36, 843-846. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2013.09.005
Ram, A., & Ross, H. (2008). 'We got to figure it out': Information-sharing and siblings' negotiations of conflicts of interests. Social Development, 17(3), 512-527.
Rao, N., Stewart, S. (1999). Cultural influences on sharer and recipient behavior: Sharing in Chinese and Indian preschool children. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 30(2), 219-241
Ross, H. (1996). Negotiating principles of entitlement in sibling property disputes. Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 90-101.
Ross, H., den Bak-Lammers, I. (1998). Consistency and change in children's tattling on their siblings: Children's perspective on the moral rules and procedures of family life. Social Development, 7(3), 276-300.
Ross, H., Filyer, R., Lollis, L., Perlman, L., Martin, J. (1994). Administering justice in the family. Journal of Family Psychology, 8(3), 254-273.
Shaw, A., & Olson, K. R. (2012). Children discard a resource to avoid inequity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(2), 382-395.
Sommerville, J. A., Schmidt, M. F., Yun, J.-e., & Burns, M. (2013). The development of fairness expectations and prosocial behavior in the second year of life. Infancy, 18(1), 40-66.
Stewart, R. B. (1983). Sibling attachment relationships: Child-infant interactions in the strange situation. Developmental Psychology, 19(2), 192-199.
Svetlova, M., Nichols, S. R., & Brownell, C. A. (2010). Toddlers' prosocial behavior: From instrumental helping to empathic to altruistic helping. Child Development, 81(6), 1814-1827.
Thompson, R. A., & Newton, E. K. (2013). Baby altruists? Examining the complexity of prosocial motivation in young children. Infacy, 18(1), 120-133.
Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Sympathy through affective perspective taking and its relation to prosocial behavior in toddlers. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 534-543.
Warneken, F. (2013). Young children proactively remedy unnoticed accidents. Cognition, 126, 101-108.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science, 311, 1301-1303.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Helping and cooperation at 14 months of age. Infancy, 11(3), 271-294.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2008). Extrinsic rewards undermine altruistic tendencies in 20-month-olds. Developmental Psychology, 44(6), 1785-1788.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2009). The roots of human altruism. British Journal of Psychology, 100, 455-471.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2014). The developmental and evolutionary origins of human helping and sharing. In D. A. Schroeder, & W. G. Graziano, The oxford handbook of prosocial behavior. Oxford University Press.
Weisner, T. S., & Gallimore, R. (1977). My brother's keeper: Child and sibling caretaking. Current Anthropology, 18(2), 169-190.
White, N., Ensor, R., Marks, A., Jacobs, L., & Hughes, C. (2014). "It's mine!" Does sharing with siblings at age 3 predict sharing with siblings, friends and unfamiliar peers at age 6? Early Education and Development, 25, 185-201.
Zahn-Waxler, C., Radke-Yarrow, M., Wagner, E., & Chapman, M. (1992). Development of concern for others. Developmental Psychology, 28(1), 126-136.
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Back to top Back to top