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Description: Prosocial behaviors, which are defined as behaviors intended to benefit others, are important building blocks for developing and maintaining positive relationships (Carlo & Padilla-Walker, 2020). Adolescence, the period between ages 10 to 24 years (Sawyer et al., 2018), is characterized by age-related changes in prosocial behavior, with most studies reporting a general increase in prosocial behaviors across adolescence (e.g., Crone et al., 2022; Do et al., 2017). However, the exact developmental patterns of prosocial behavior are still debated. The large heterogeneity across developmental studies, mainly depending on specific design parameters used, can be interpreted as evidence that prosocial behavior should be regarded as a multidimensional construct (Carlo & Padilla-Walker, 2020). According to this hypothesis, prosocial behavior comprises many behaviors, from sharing and helping to cooperating, and depends on several contextual characteristics (e.g., who the recipient is and whether the situation is dire; Carlo & Padilla-Walker, 2020). To date, little is known about the variability in development of distinct types of prosocial behavior across adolescence. Therefore, the first aim of our longitudinal study is to examine the developmental trajectories and interdependence of multiple types of prosocial behaviors within individuals. The second aim of this study is to examine the commonality of prosociality and risk-taking. Although adolescence is known as a period during which prosocial behavior changes, this period in life is also marked by increased risk-taking (Steinberg, 2008). Recent work on ‘prosocial risk takers’ argues that these two types of behaviors do not develop in isolation: adolescents may take risks to benefit others (Do et al., 2017). Indeed, previous studies found adolescents’ prosocial actions toward friends and peers to be correlated with rebelliousness (e.g., substance use), with this combined profile being predicted by reward drive as one underlying factor (Blankenstein et al., 2020). However, it remains unknown how adolescent development of risk-taking, specifically rebelliousness, is associated with the development of different types of prosocial behavior. The second aim of the study will therefore be to examine how the development of multidimensional prosocial behavior relates to the development of risk-taking behavior during adolescence, as well as the development of the combined profile of prosocial risk-takers. Finally, an important question concerns whether chronological age perse is the only developmental factor driving the change in prosociality. Pubertal development may also contribute to the development of both prosocial and prosocial risk-taking behavior, which may provide additional information about developmental trajectories during adolescence. The onset of puberty, which marks the start of adolescence, is characterized by rapid changes in hormone levels and physical appearance (Blakemore et al., 2010). Previous studies demonstrated that changes in sex steroid hormones, particularly testosterone and estradiol, are associated with increased risk-taking, suggesting that sex hormones accelerate the maturational process of risk-taking during adolescence (Peper et al., 2013, 2018; Peper & Dahl, 2013). It has been suggested that this effect mainly works through the contribution of hormones on changes in sensation seeking and reward sensitivity. Hormone levels may similarly affect prosocial behavior. While one study using a prosocial decision-making task showed that high testosterone was linked with greater prosocial conformity during adolescence (Duell et al., 2021), the link between hormones and prosocial behavior has not yet been investigated in a longitudinal study. As our third study aim, we will therefore examine the role of puberty on the development of prosocial behavior and its association with risk-taking behavior. Taken together, the aim of our longitudinal study is to examine the developmental trajectories of four types of prosocial behaviors during adolescence and how these trajectories are associated with the development of risk-taking behavior. Given the multidimensionality of prosocial behavior, three self-report measures and one experimental task will be used with varying types and recipients of prosocial behavior. While self-report measures are often used to assess individual’s general tendencies to show certain types of behaviors, experimental tasks are suitable to systematically disentangle actual behaviors. Motivated by prior research, a variety of measures of prosocial behaviors will therefore be used. In the current study, the experimental task is the Charity Dictator Game to examine giving behavior to charities (Eckel & Grossman, 1996; Engel, 2011; Kahneman et al., 1986), as more distant but societal trustworthy partners with whom young individuals do not have a direct relationship. The self-report measures include the Opportunities for Prosocial Actions scale (OPA; Blankenstein et al., 2020; te Brinke et al., 2023; van de Groep et al., 2020) to test for altruism, emotional support, helping, and giving/sharing to friends and peers, the Prosocial Tendencies Measure Revised (PTM-R; Carlo et al., 2003) to test for several tendencies to behave prosocially in different situations (i.e., public, anonymous, dire, emotional, compliant, and altruistic), and the Social Value Orientation Slider (SVO; Murphy et al., 2011) as measure of the intrinsic preference for the distribution of resources. The Adolescent Risk-Taking Questionnaire (ART; Gullone et al., 2000) will be used to measure rebelliousness. We will first describe the developmental trajectories of these four types of prosocial behavior over time within individuals (i.e., CDG, PTM-R, OPA, and SVO). Our second step is to describe how the developmental trajectories of prosocial behaviors are associated with the development of risk-taking during adolescence. Our final step is to examine how puberty contributes to the developmental trajectories of adolescent’s prosocial and risk-taking behavior. To best capture multiple aspects of pubertal development (Shirtcliff et al., 2009), both hormonal (i.e., testosterone and estradiol) and physical measures (i.e., pubertal development based on secondary sexual characteristics) will be used.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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