The term “prosocial behaviour” in
the field of psychology simply means, to be able to relate to or present
behaviour which is “positive, helpful, and intended to stimulate social
acceptance and friendship” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017). Prosocial
development of a child begins to emanate in children of ages 12-30-months in three different frameworks such as;
instrumental, empathic and altruistic (Svetlova, Nichols, & Brownell, 2011). Concerning this
cognitive developmental stage in one’s life, there have been many debates as to
the determining factor that influences the personality of a child from
childhood to adulthood. Many theories have been evolved as a result, as well as
numerous experiments such as the twin study, the bobo doll experiment and the social
exclusion test. These theories that involve the influential factors on
prosocial development of the child can mainly be grouped as; “The Group
Socialization Theory” and “The Behavioural Genetics Theory” (Smith, Cowie, & Blades, 2011) of which renowned
psychologists such as Dr. Judith Harris and Francis Galton contribute
extensively. The Group Socialization Theory supports the motion that one’s peer
groups rather than parental figures are the main contributory factors to the
turnout of the child’s personality and behaviour in adulthood (Smith, Cowie,
& Blades, 2011). Whiles The Behavioural Genetics Theory
discusses the study of genetics and various environmental influences on prosocial
behaviours (Smith, Cowie, & Blades, 2011). These theories
differ in more ways than one especially concerning emphasis on certain aspects as
well as contrasting evidence (Svetlova, Nichols, & Brownell, 2011). However, this essay
pursues to expatiate the various theories and the supporting evidence they
possess as well as highlight the errors in these contrasting schools of thought.

            According to
Judith, children have adaptive minds and do not assume every behaviour will
work or be acceptable everywhere and therefore learn to behave accordingly in
various environments. An analogy of this would be how children behave slightly
off as compared to the behaviour they put up at home. This is mainly because in
school (where children spend most of their lives), different influential
factors govern the behaviour of the child, like teachers and peers. Another
analogy would be the shock parents express when they are called in due to
certain odd behaviours of the child at school.  The changes in behaviour may be tenuous
in a child from a “stereotypical” home but are more perceptible in
children whose parental figures belong to different races or cultures from the
others in the same neighborhood. Most of these children put up a façade at
school in order to fit in and more often discard their cultural heritage.


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