Skip to Content

Prosocial Behaviour

By Hans-Werner Bierhoff

Psychology Press – 2002 – 400 pages

Series: Social Psychology: A Modular Course

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $52.95
    August 28th 2002
  • Add to CartHardback: $120.00
    August 28th 2002


How can social bonds in society be strengthened? How do we learn and develop prosocial behaviour?

This comprehensive textbook provides up-to-date coverage of the social phenomenon of prosocial behaviour, incorporating all the major developments in the fields of developmental and social psychology. The first section identifies different forms of prosocial behaviour, including estimates of prevalence in everyday situations and the controversy between biological and cultural perspectives as explanatory models of prosocial behaviour. The second and third sections focus on learning and development, with emphasis on social learning, responsibility, empathy and guilt. The fourth section explores the prevalence of prosocial behaviour, in particular the situational and personality factors which inhibit urgently needed prosocial behaviour. The final section is devoted to practical applications, such as how to increase the likelihood that people will work as volunteers in community organisations and how to heighten the willingness to offer first aid.

This book will be an invaluable resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of social psychology and sociology, as well as anyone with an interest in social services and voluntary organisations.


'This book represents perhaps the most exhaustive coverage of the topic of prosocial behaviour within any single text. I shall recommend it highly to students and colleagues alike.' - Tom Farsides, School of Social Science, University of Sussex

'This is a timely book for the interested scholar who wishes to access an overview of prosocial behaviour.' - Gustavo Carlo, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Introduction. Part 1. Prosocial Behaviour and Social Life 1.Issues of Definition 2. Forms of Prosocial Behaviour. The Special Case of Planned Helping 3. How Helpful Are Human Beings? Helpfulness in Nonserious Situations. Intervention in Emergency Situations 4. Culture, the Individual, and Level of Helpfulness. Gender Differences. Urban-rural Comparisons. Time Effects. Social Status 5. Human Nature vs. Cultural Context. The Biological Perspective. The Cultural Context 6. Measurement and Generality of Prosocial Behaviour in Children. How is Prosocial Behaviour Measured in Children? Generality of Prosocial Behaviour. Part 2. Learning and Development 7. How does Prosocial Behaviour Develop? Prosocial Behaviour in the Second Year of Life. Age Trends in Prosocial Orientation: 4-20 years. Beyond Adolescence 8. Learning of Prosocial Behaviour. Prosocial Modelling. Social Reinforcement. The Role of Reasoning in Moral Internalisation. Altruistic Self-scheme. Part 3. Processes of Prosocial Behaviour 9. Empathy. Modes of Empathy Arousal. Self-other Differentiation and the Development of Empathy. Measurement of Empathy. Empathic Accuracy 10. Guilt. Empathy-based Guilt. Guilt in Social Life. Shame vs. Guilt. Measures of Guilt. Guilt and Mental Health. Transgression, Guilt, and Reparation. Survivor Guilt. Guilt over Affluence 11. Responsibility. The Meaning of Responsibility: Voluntariness and Controllability. The Origin of Social Responsibility. Responsibility and Social Conduct. Definitions and Research Traditions. Environmental Responsibility. Responsibility as a Predictor of Prosocial Behaviour. Two Dimensions of Social Responsibility. Denial of Responsibility. Part 4. Theories of Prosocial Behaviour 12. Arousal: Cost-reward Model of Intervention. Costs of Helping and Costs of not Helping. Prediction of Intervention. Impulsive Helping. The Revised Theory 13. Altruistic Motive System. Perspective Taking, Empathic Concern, and Prosocial Behaviour. Basic Research on the Empathy-altruism Hypothesis. Further Tests of the Empathy-altruism Hypothesis 14. Empathy-related Responding and Emotional Regulation. Multimethod Approach. Theoretical Advancement 15. Social Inhibition of Bystander Intervention. The Decision-making Process: From Bystander to Actor. Social Inhibition: When the Situation is Difficult to Handle. Appendix: Calculation of Corrected Probabilities of Intervention of Groups and Individuals 16. Altruistic Personality. Rescuers of Jews. Further Results on the Altruistic Personality 17. Psychology of Seeking and Receiving Help. Receiving Help: A Benefit not Without Risks. Seeking Help: Successful Coping may have a Price. Which Factors Influence the Reactions of Help-recipients? Part 5. Applications 18. Raising the Level of First-aid in Real Life. The Key Roles of Responsibility and Competence. Determinants of Subjective Competence 19. Solidarity. Theory of Solidarity. What is Solidarity? Different Uses of the Term Solidarity. Common Interests. Solidarity on the Basis of Interests of Others. Conclusions 20. Voluntary Work Engagement in Organisations. Self-responsible Organisational Behaviour. Organisational Citizenship Behaviour. Prosocial Organisational Behaviour. Organisational Spontaneity: Mood and Group Atmosphere as Predictors of Prosocial Behaviour. Comparison between OCB, POB, and OS 21. Volunteerism. Functional Approach to Volunteerism. Motives of Volunteers. Role-identity Model. Altruistic Personality, Motives of Volunteers, and Religious Orientation. Conclusions. Postscript. The Community as the Unit of Analysis. Sociobiological Perspective and Socialisation Processes. Situational vs Dispositional Explanations. Altruism vs Egoism. What Comes Next?

Author Bio

Hans-Werner Bierhoff is a Professor of Psychology at Ruhr-University Bochum.

Name: Prosocial Behaviour (eBook)Psychology Press 
Description: By Hans-Werner Bierhoff. How can social bonds in society be strengthened? How do we learn and develop prosocial behaviour? This comprehensive textbook provides up-to-date coverage of the social phenomenon of prosocial behaviour, incorporating all the major developments in the...
Categories: Social Psychology, Interpersonal Processes & Communication