Children's perceptions of peer prosocial behaviours and motives: why are children nice to each other?

Georgina A. Wardle

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis reports the findings of a series of five linked studies which involved a total of 473 children between the ages of seven and twelve years. Using peer nomination methods, samples of prosocial, asocial and antisocial children were identified. These groups were presented with tasks designed to explore peer prosocial and antisocial nomination strategies; children's perceptions of normative prosocial behaviours towards same-gender peers, opposite-gender peers, and adults; and the motives behind these behaviours. The effects of the following variables on children's perceptions of prosocial behaviours and underlying motives were measured: age; gender; peer-nominated status as prosocial or antisocial; and the identity of the target of the prosocial behaviour. Findings do not support age or gender differences in perceptions of prosocial behaviours or motives, but demonstrate clear differences in how prosocial and antisocial children regard the motives behind the prosocial behaviours of others. The importance of this insight lies in its relevance to the fostering of effective social peer interaction among children.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • prosocial behaviour
  • children
  • peer groups
  • gender
  • antisocial behaviour
  • perception


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