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Effects of Parenting and Child Temperament on the Development of Prosocial Behavior: The Mediating Role of Theory of Mind

Bilge Yağmurlu, Ann Sanson, S. Bahar Köymen
2005; 20(55):01-24

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the influences of parenting and child temperament on the development of prosocial behaviors, and the mediating role of theory of mind in this relationship. Another aim was to examine cultural similarities and differences in levels of prosocial behaviors and their predictors. The participants in the study were 151 Australian and 50 Turkish preschoolers living in Australia, and their mothers and care-providers. Multiple methods (mother and teacher ratings, behavioral assessments) were used to assess prosocial behaviors. The ability of theory of mind was assessed using three false belief tasks. Results indicated equivalent levels of prosocial behavior in Turkish and Australian groups, but somewhat different routes to their development. Maternal warmth and child persistence predicted prosocial behavior for the Australian sample. For the Turkish sample, obedience-demanding behavior had a facilitating effect upon prosocial development. Theory of mind was positively related to prosocial behavior in both cultural groups. The direct and indirect effects of parenting and child temperament on prosocial development and the mediating role of theory of mind are discussed in relation to cultural norms.

Keywords: Prosocial behavior, theory of mind, socialization, temperament