Prosocial Behavior and Caring in Adolescence: Relations to Self‐Understanding and Social Judgment

Daniel Hart, Suzanne Fegley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


The relation of self‐understanding and moral judgment to dedicated prosocial behavior is investigated. Participants were African‐American and Latin‐American adolescents who had been nominated by community leaders for having demonstrated unusual commitments to care for others or the community (care exemplars). The care exemplars, and matched comparison adolescents, were extensively interviewed over the course of 4–6 sessions in order to elicit self‐understanding, moral judgment, and implicit personality theories. The care exemplars were more likely than the comparison adolescents to: (1) describe themselves in terms of moral personality traits and goals, (2) view themselves as having closer continuity to their pasts and futures, (3) think of themselves as incorporating their ideals and parental images, and (4) articulate theories of self in which personal beliefs and philosophies are important. There were no differences between the care exemplars and the comparison adolescents in developmental stages of moral judgment nor in the abstractness of their implicit personality theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1346-1359
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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