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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2023
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Book description

Prosociality is a multifaceted concept referring to the many ways in which individuals care about and benefit others. Human prosociality is foundational to social harmony, happiness, and peace; it is therefore essential to understand its underpinnings, development, and cultivation. This handbook provides a state-of-the-art, in-depth account of scientific, theoretical, and practical knowledge regarding prosociality and its development. Its thirty chapters, written by international researchers in the field, elucidate key issues, including: the development of prosociality across infancy, childhood, adolescence, and beyond; the biological, cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms that underlie and influence prosociality; how different socialization agents and social contexts can affect children's prosociality; and intervention approaches aimed at cultivating prosociality in children and adolescents. This knowledge can benefit researchers, students, practitioners, and policy makers seeking to nurture socially responsible, caring youth.


‘Tina Malti and Maayan Davidov's new Cambridge Handbook of Prosociality: Development, Mechanisms, and Promotion is the state of the art for research and scholarship on prosocial development in childhood through adulthood. This is a very impressive collection of top scholars from a wide range of perspectives on prosociality as it emerges and is applied in a wide array of contexts, from the home to schools and the community. Fascinating questions are posed and grappled with, including the role of genetics, the neurobiology of prosociality, how prosociality changes across the lifespan, how it can be challenged in the context of ingroup bias and outgroup distrust, and its connection to moral values and moral cognition. We learn about the role of siblings, parents, schools, and the media for facilitating or suppressing acts of helping, caring, and sharing towards others. This is an indispensable guide for anyone interested in finding out what makes humans prosocial and how we can foster this orientation for a more just and civil society.'

Melanie Killen - University of Maryland, USA and Editor of the Handbook of Moral Development

‘As social animals, humans are born with a healthy dose of empathy and prosociality. It is paramount to know how these tendencies develop in the young and how they can be augmented. For anyone interested in this complex topic, this handbook does an admirable job reviewing current knowledge.'

Frans de Waal - author of Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

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