Prosocial norms as a positive youth development construct: Conceptual bases and implications for curriculum development

Man Hong Andrew Siu, Howard C.H. Cheng, Mana C.M. Leung

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Prosocial norms are clear, healthy, ethical standards, beliefs, and behavior guidelines that promote prosocial behavior and minimize health risks. The promotion of prosocial norms like altruism, solidarity, and volunteerism is an important aspect of positive youth development programs. From the literature, it is evident that a prosocial orientation is encouraged in traditional Chinese philosophy. Longitudinal studies have shown that prosocial behavior increases gradually over adolescence, and that the development of prosocial behavior is closely linked to the development of moral reasoning, perspective taking, and regulation of personal distress. It is noteworthy that females have a higher prosocial orientation than males, and peer influence could be a major mediating factor of interventions to foster prosocial norms and behavior during adolescence. This review also analyzes the mechanism underlying prosocial behavior using the cost-reward model, social cognitive theory, and stages of moral development. Role modeling, social reinforcements and evaluations, discussion of moral dilemmas, empathy skills training, and foot-in-the-door procedures are identified as useful strategies for fostering prosocial norms and behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Hong Kong
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Prosocial norms
  • Prosocial reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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