Longitudinal associations between prosocial behavior and behavioral problems across childhood: A robust random-intercept cross-lagged panel model

Mariëlle Zondervan-Zwijnenburg, Simone Dobbelaar, Mara van der Meulen, Michelle Achterberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Prior studies have indicated that prosocial behavior might be a protective factor for developing internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems. However, little research has been conducted on within-person changes of prosocial behavior and behavioral problems over time. With random-intercept crosslagged panel models (RI-CLPMs), the current study analyzed longitudinal associations between prosocial behavior and behavioral problems in two twin cohorts (98% Western European): in early childhood (age M = 4.77, SD =.58, 52% girls, N = 440) and middle childhood (age M = 7.94, SD =.67, 51% girls, N = 512). To obtain robust results, two parental reported questionnaires and an observational task were used as prosocial behavior assessments. In line with the literature, we found a significant between-person association between externalizing behavior and parent reported prosocial behavior in middle childhood, but not in early childhood. Some evidence indicated that changes in externalizing problems affect later prosocial behavior in middle childhood. Overall, however, the RI-CLPMs provided most support for the hypothesis that within-person changes in prosocial behavior are not related to within-person changes in behavioral problems. Thus, our findings did not support the hypothesis that increased prosocial behavior directly results in decreased behavioral problems, but emphasizes the need to take into account the multifaceted nature of prosocial behavior

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1155
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the participating families for their enthusiastic involvement in the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development (L-CID). We are also grateful to the data-collection and data-processing team, including all current and former students, research assistants, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers for their dedicated and invaluable contributions. Marinus van IJzendoorn, Eveline Crone and Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg designed the L-CID experimental cohort-sequential twin study “Samen Uniek” as part of the Consortium on Individual Development (CID; Gravitation Grant 2013-2023 awarded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, & Science, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientifc Research, NWO Grant 024.001.003)

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 American Psychological Association


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