Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Frank R. Ascione


Frank R. Ascione


The purpose of the present laboratory study was to investigate the relative effects of sharing and nonsharing peer and adult models on the facilitation of prosocial behaviors with and without reinforcement to the model. One hundred and sixty second and third grade children served as subjects and were randomly assigned to six treatment groups and one control group. For replication purposes, half of the subjects participated in each condition prior to the second half doing so.

Children in the treatment groups viewed videotaped sequences portraying both a male and female model sharing or not sharing tokens with poor children. Models were either peers or adults. Sharing was either reinforced by praise from an adult or not reinforced; nonsharing was not reinforced.

Children in the control group viewed an entertainment program devoid of prosocial or antisocial content. All children received instructions with respect to the acquisition and distribution of tokens which were exchangeable for prizes at the end of the session.

Prosocial behaviors were· assessed following the videotaped sequences and included token donations, volunteering of work, and offering help following a staged accident. Children viewing nonsharing and nonreinforced peers had lower token donations than children in other treatment groups and the control group. Although not statistically significant findings, children who viewed peer models exhibiting prosocial behaviors that were reinforced had greater token donations and tended to help in the staged accident more than children in other treatment groups. No differences were found between treatment groups with respect to volunteering work. More children provided help in a staged accident when they had observed sharing peers who were reinforced than children in other conditions. However when children observed nonsharing and nonreinforced adults, they displayed a lower incidence of helping. Vicarious reinforcement produced greater, though not statistically significant, token donations as compared with the absence of reinforcement in both adult and peer treatment conditions. The correlations among donations, volunteering, and helping were found to be low.

Modeling in combination with reinforcement of the model was not sufficient to increase prosocial behaviors significantly beyond the performance of a control group. The contribution of peer modeling to the facilitation of prosocial behaviors in the early elementary grades appears slight. Nevertheless, peer models were especially influential in inhibiting prosocial behaviors by the modeling of antisocial responses. The observation of reinforcement contingencies applied to models only slightly increased prosocial behaviors and can not be considered a potent variable in this behavior domain.



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