First Advisor

Cathleen L. Smith

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Child psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (115 p.)


This experiment examined the effects of instructions on the prosocial behavior (i.e., helping, sharing, teaching, and sympathy) of preschool children. Forty-eight individual children (X = 56.7 months) interacted with two adult women on two separate occasions, an initial session measuring baseline levels of prosocial behavior, and a second session several days later. In the second session, children received instructions in helping, sharing, and teaching, and an opportunity to rehearse, or practice, these prosocial behaviors. Children were given either power assertive instructions (i.e., instructions which directly told the child what to do), or inductive instructions (i.e., instructions which focused the child's attention on the needs of others). A control group received no instructions to behave prosocially. At the close of the second session, all children were given an immediate test to assess their level of helping, sharing, and teaching in the absence of instructions. An opportunity to display sympathy or comforting behavior was included to test for generalization of the instructional training to a new behavior. Approximately one week later a third session, where the child interacted with two new adult women who gave no instructions but presented opportunities for the child to help, share, teach, and sympathize, was included to test for internalization and long term generalization.


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