Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
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Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. 2014, 2(2), 48-53
DOI: 10.12691/rpbs-2-2-3
Open AccessArticle

Prosocial Behavior and Moral Reasoning in Italian Adolescents and Young Adults

Maria Elvira De Caroli1, , Rossella Falanga1 and Elisabetta Sagone1

1Department of Educational Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

Pub. Date: July 04, 2014

Cite this paper:
Maria Elvira De Caroli, Rossella Falanga and Elisabetta Sagone. Prosocial Behavior and Moral Reasoning in Italian Adolescents and Young Adults. Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. 2014; 2(2):48-53. doi: 10.12691/rpbs-2-2-3

Abstract

This study analyzed the relationships between the inclination to help the others and prosocial moral reasoning (PMR) in a sample of 548 Italian adolescents and young adults. We used the Italian version of Prosocial Tendencies Measure to evaluate the tendencies to adopt prosocial behaviors in different conditions (public, anonymous, and helping behavior in emotionally critical and dire situations) and the two Italian versions of Prosocial Reasoning Objective Measure (respectively for adolescents and adults) in order to assess the general level (composite PMR) and the five typologies of PMR (hedonistic, needs oriented, approval oriented, stereotypical, and internalized prosocial moral reasoning). Results showed that girls scored higher than boys in helping behaviors in emotionally critical and dire situations, while boys scored higher than girls in public behaviors; furthermore, young adults expressed higher levels than adolescents in anonymous behaviors while adolescents scored higher than young adults in public behaviors. In relation to prosocial moral reasoning, girls expressed higher scores than boys in composite PMR and, specifically, in internalized and hedonistic PMR, while boys showed higher levels than girls in stereotypical, needs oriented, and approval oriented PMR. Moreover, young adults reached higher levels than adolescents in composite PMR, especially in internalized and hedonistic PMR; additionally, adolescents obtained higher levels than young adults in stereotypical, needs oriented, and approval oriented PMR. Significant relationships between prosocial behavior and PMR were found: the inclination to use helping behaviors in emotionally critical and dire situations was related positively to levels of composite PMR, especially to internalized PMR, but negatively to approval oriented PMR; public behaviors were related positively to approval and needs oriented PMR, but negatively to composite PMR and, specifically to internalized PMR. Future research will analyze the effects of these dimensions on other psychological constructs such as moral disengagement and value orientations in educational context.

Keywords:
prosocial behavior prosocial moral reasoning adolescents young adults

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