The Relations Between Children's Self-Concept and Prosocial Behavior

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Prosocial behavior and self-concept have been studied separately by researchers with little attention given to a possible linkage. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relations between children's spontaneous and requested prosocial behaviors (helping, sharing, comforting, and cooperating) as they related to self-concept (physical, social, and personal). The prosocial behaviors of 58 kindergarten children were observed in their classrooms during free play activities over a seven week period. Each child's self-concept was assessed by The Purdue Self Concept Scale For Preschool Children. Classroom teachers responded to questionnaires evaluating children's prosocial behaviors and their self-concepts. In addition, children provided evaluations of their peers' prosocial behaviors in personal interviews. Data analysis revealed significant relations between the combined aggregate of spontaneous prosocial behaviors and overall self-concept; total cooperating with self-concept; spontaneous cooperating with self-concept; physical, social, and personal self-concepts with spontaneous cooperating; and between teacher ratings of requested prosocial behaviors and children's observed requested actions. Non significant relations were found between total prosocial behavior and total self-concept; total prosocial behavior and physical, personal, and social self-concept; spontaneous helping, sharing, comforting, and cooperating with self-concept; and requested helping, sharing, comforting, and cooperating with self-concept. Also non significant were the relations between physical, social, and personal self-concepts and spontaneous helping and shoring, and also requested helping, sharing, and cooperating. No significant differences were found between boys and girls with regard to helping, sharing, comforting, and cooperating prosocial behaviors. Teacher evaluation of children's spontaneous prosocial behaviors and their self-concept were also non significant. Non significant relations were found between peer nominations of helping, shoring, comforting, and cooperating behaviors with children's observed helping, shoring, comforting, and cooperating behaviors. Future researchers may consider varying the prosocial behavior observational techniques and self-concept assessments used in this study. Classroom teachers ore encouraged to use various modeling and reinforcement techniques to promote children's prosocial behaviors. They are also encouraged to provide children with developmentally appropriate classroom practices that challenge their personal, social, and physical abilities, thus promoting positive self-concepts.