A History of Prosocial Behavior Research

Authored by: C. Daniel Batson

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


 Download Chapter



The word “prosocial” does not appear in most dictionaries; it was created by social scientists as an antonym for “antisocial.” Prosocial behavior covers the broad range of actions intended to benefit one or more people other than oneself—behaviors such as helping, comforting, sharing, cooperation, philanthropy, and community service. The word “altruism” has at times also been used to refer to these behaviors, or to a subset of them such as self-sacrificial helping or helping in the absence of external rewards. This usage seems inappropriate, however, because altruism is a motivational concept. Altruism is motivation to increase another person’s welfare; it is contrasted to egoism, motivation to increase one’s own welfare (Comte, 1851/1875, Dixon, 2008; MacIntyre, 1967). There is no one-to-one correspondence between prosocial behavior and altruism. Prosocial behavior need not be motivated by altruism; altruistic motivation need not produce prosocial behavior.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.