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11-06-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2020 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2020

With a Little Help from Their Peers: The Impact of Classmates on Adolescents’ Development of Prosocial Behavior

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2020
Auteurs:
Robert Busching, Barbara Krahé
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Supplementary information

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-020-01260-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Peer groups are critical socialization agents for the development of social behavior in adolescence, but studies examining peer-group effects on individuals’ prosocial behavior are scarce. Using a two-wave, multilevel data set (N = 16,893, 8481 male; 8412 female; mean age at Time 1: 14.0 years) from 1308 classes in 252 secondary schools in Germany, main effects of the classroom level of prosocial behavior, cross-level interactions between the classroom and the individual levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1, and the moderating role of gender were examined. The results showed that adolescents in classrooms with high collective levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1 reported more prosocial behavior at Time 2, about two years later, reflecting a class-level main effect. A significant cross-level interaction indicated that a high classroom level of prosocial behavior particularly affected individuals with lower levels of prosocial behavior at Time 1. The influence of same-gender peers was larger compared with opposite-gender peers. The findings are discussed with respect to social learning mechanisms in the development of prosocial behavior and their implications for interventions to promote prosocial behavior.

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