First Advisor

Cathleen Smith

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Socialization, Child development, Preschool children



Physical Description

1 online resource (87 p.)


There has a great deal of research regarding the positive social (prosocial) behaviors of young children. Children have been observed performing a number of different prosocial behaviors, including helping, showing, sharing, and responding to the distress of another. However, most of the previous research was conducted in laboratory settings. In order to describe the first manifestations of prosocial behaviors more accurately, research needs to be conducted in a natural setting. The purpose of the current study was to observe the origins of the prosocial behaviors of young children in a child development center. To accomplish this goal, a research team was assembled and pilot observations were made. Group meetings served as a forum for developing a coding system. The study included four observation periods over a six month span during which children's naturally occurring social interactions were videotaped. Thirty-seven children between the ages of 9 months and 3.5 years who attended a corporate affiliated child development center participated in the study. The first observation period included 37 children who were videotaped for an average of eighty-four minutes each. The three remaining observation periods included 21 children who were videotaped an average of ninety minutes each. Approximately 150 total hours of videotape were collected. In addition to developing a coding system, a reliability study was conducted. This study included 42 three-minute segments which were representative of the videotape that was collected. Also, all the behaviors under observation were included among these segments. The three newest members of the research team then coded the segments. Inter-observer agreement was assessed by computing percentage agreement and also by calculating Cohen's kappas. Repeated measures analysis of variance were performed to determine if there were differences between observers, across the age range of the children, or across the group activity that the children were involved in while being observed. Although there were no significant differences between kappa values, there were differences between the percentage agreements. The implications of these differences to the coding system is discussed and predictions pertaining to the frequency of pro social behavior are elaborated.


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