Positive Youth Development: Parental Warmth, Values, and Prosocial Behavior in 11 Cultural Groups

Concetta Pastorelli, Antonio Zuffianò, Jennifer E. Lansford, Eriona Thartori, Marc H. Bornstein, Lei Chang, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Laura Di Giunta, Kenneth A. Dodge, Sevtap Gurdal, Qin Liu, Qian Long, Paul Oburu, Ann T. Skinner, Emma Sorbring, Laurence Steinberg, Sombat Tapanya, Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado, Saengduean Yotanyamaneewong, Suha Al-Hassan, Liane Peña Alampay, Dario Bacchini


The current cross-cultural study aimed to extend research on parenting and children’s prosocial behavior by examining relations among parental warmth, values related to family obligations (i.e., children’s support to and respect for their parents, siblings, and extended family), and prosocial behavior during the transition to adolescence (from ages 9 to 12). Mothers, fathers, and their children (N = 1107 families) from 8 countries including 11 cultural groups (Colombia; Rome and Naples, Italy; Jordan; Kenya; the Philippines; Sweden; Thailand; and African Americans, European Americans, and Latin Americans in the United States) provided data over 3 years in 3 waves (Mageof child in wave 1 = 9.34 years, SD = 0.75; 50.5% female). Overall, across all 11 cultural groups, multivariate change score analysis revealed positive associations among the change rates of parental warmth, values related to family obligations, and prosocial behavior during late childhood (from age 9 to 10) and early-adolescence (from age 10 to 12). In most cultural groups, more parental warmth at ages 9 and 10 predicted steeper mean-level increases in prosocial behavior in subsequent years. The findings highlight the prominent role of positive family context, characterized by warm relationships and shared prosocial values, in fostering children’s positive development in the transition to adolescence. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.


parental warmth; family values; prosocial behavior; cross-cultural; positive youth development; adolescence

Full Text:



Arbuckle, J. L. (1996). Full information estimation in the presence of incomplete data. In G. A. Marcoulides & R. E. Schumacker (Eds.), Advanced structural equation modeling: Issues and techniques (pp. 243-277). Erlbaum.

Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. (2014). Multiple-group factor analysis alignment. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 21(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705511.2014.919210

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall.

Blasi, A. (1983). Moral cognition and moral action: A theoretical perspective. Developmental Review, 3, 178-210. https://doi.org/10.1016/0273-2297(83)90029-1

Bornstein, M. H. (2015). Children’s parents. In M. H. Bornstein & T. Leventhal (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: Ecological settings and processes in developmental systems (7th ed., Vol. 4., pp. 55-132), Editor-in-Chief: R. M. Lerner. Wiley.

Bornstein, M. H., Suwalsky, J. T. D., & Breakstone, D. A. (2012). Emotional relationships between mothers and infants: Knowns, unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Development and Psychopathology, 24(1), 113-123. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579411000708

Calderón, C. O., Knight, G. P., & Carlo, G. (2011). The socialization of prosocial behaviors among Mexican American adolescents: The role of familism. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17, 98-106. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021825

Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., Pastorelli, C., Bandura, A., & Zimbardo, P. (2000). Prosocial foundations of children’s academic achievement. Psychological Science, 11, 302-306. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00260

Caprara, G. V., & Pastorelli, C. (1993). Early emotional instability, prosocial behavior, and aggression: Some methodological aspects. European Journal of Personality, 7, 19-36. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.2410070103

Caprara, G. V., Steca, P., Zelli, A., & Capanna, C. (2005). A new scale for measuring adults’ prosocialness. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21(2), 77-89. https://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759.21.2.77

Carlo, G., Mestre, M. V., Samper, P., Tur, A., & Armenta, B. E. (2010). The longitudinal relations among dimensions of parenting styles, sympathy, prosocial moral reasoning, and prosocial behaviors. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 5(2), 116-124. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025410375921

Carlo, G., White, R. M. B., Streit, C., Knight, G. P., & Zeiders, K. H. (2018). Longitudinal relations among parenting styles, prosocial behaviors, and academic outcomes in U.S. Mexican adolescents. Child Development, 89(2), 577-592. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12761

Cortina, J. M. (1993). What is coefficient alpha? An examination of theory and applications. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 98-104. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.78.1.982761

Damon, W. (2004). What is positive youth development? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 13-24. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716203260092

Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487-496. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.113.3.487

De Los Reyes, A., & Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Informant discrepancies in the assessment of childhood psychopathology: A critical review, theoretical framework, and recommendations for further study. Psychological Bulletin, 131(4), 483-509. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.131.4.483

Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Prosocial development. In N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., Vol. 3, pp. 701-778), Editor-in-Chief: W. Damon. Wiley.

Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2015). Prosocial development. In M. E. Lamb (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Socioemotional processes (7th ed., Vol. 3, pp. 610-656), Editor-in-Chief: R. M. Lerner. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118963418.childpsy315

Erkut, S. (2010). Developing multiple language versions of instruments for intercultural research. Child Development Perspectives, 4, 19-24. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2009.00111.x

Fuligni, A. J. (2007). Family obligation, college enrollment, and emerging adulthood in Asian and Latin American families. Child Development Perspectives, 1, 96-100. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2007.00022.x

Fuligni, A. J. (2019). The need to contribute during adolescence. Persperctives on Psychological Science, 14(3), 331-343. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691618805437

Fuligni, A. J., Tseng, V., & Lam, M. (1999). Attitudes toward family obligations among American adolescents with Asian, Latin American, and European backgrounds. Child Development, 70, 1030-1044. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00075

Grimm, K. J. (2007). Multivariate longitudinal methods for studying developmental relationships between depression and academic achievement. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31(4), 328-339. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025407077754

Grimm, K. J., An, Y., McArdle, J. J., Zonderman, A. B., & Resnick, S. M. (2012). Recent changes leading to subsequent changes: Extensions of multivariate latent difference score models. Structural Equation Modeling, 19(2), 268-292. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705511.2012.659627

Grusec, J. E., & Goodnow, J. J. (1994). Impact of parental discipline methods on the child’s internalization of values: A reconceptualization of current points of view. Developmental Psychology, 30, 4-19. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.30.1.4

Hart, D., & Carlo, G. (2005). Moral development in adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15, 223-233. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2005.00094.x

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X

Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge University Press.

Hoffman, M. L. (2008). Empathy and prosocial behavior. In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones, & L. F. Barrett (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 440-455). Guilford Press.

Knafo, A., & Plomin, R. (2006). Parental discipline and affective and children’s prosocial behavior: Genetic and environmental links. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 147-164. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.90.1.147

Knight, G. P., Carlo, G., Mahrer, N. E., & Davis, A. N. (2016). The socialization of culturally related values and prosocial tendencies among Mexican-American adolescents. Child Development, 87(6), 1758-1771. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12634

Knight, G. P., Mazza, G. L., & Carlo, G. (2018). Trajectories of familism values and the prosocial tendencies of Mexican American adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 54(2), 378-384. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000436

Kokko, K., Tremblay, R. E., Lacourse, E., Nagin, D. S., & Vitaro, F. (2006). Trajectories of prosocial behavior and physical aggression in middle childhood: Links to adolescent school dropout and physical violence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16, 403-428. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2006.00500.x

Krevans, J., & Gibbs, J. C. (1996). Parents' use of inductive discipline: Relations to children's empathy and prosocial behavior. Child Development, 67(6), 3263-3277.

Laible, D. J., Carlo, G., & Raffaelli, M. (2000). The differential relations of parent and peer attachment to adolescent adjustment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 45-59. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005169004882

Lansford, J. E., Godwin, J., Al-Hassan, S. M., Bacchini, D., Bornstein, M. H., Chang, L., Chen, B.-B., Deater-Deckard, K., Di Giunta, L., Dodge, K. A., Malone, P. S., Oburu, P., Pastorelli, C., Skinner, A. T., Sorbring, E., Steinberg, L., Tapanya, S., Peña Alampay, L., Uribe Tirado, L. M., & Zelli, A. (2018). Longitudinal associations between parenting and youth adjustment in twelve cultural groups: Cultural normativeness of parenting as a moderator. Developmental Psychology, 54(2), 362-377. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000416

Lerner, R. M. (2006). Developmental science, developmental systems, and contemporary theories of human development. In R. M. Lerner (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 1-17), Editors-in-Chief: W. Damon & R. M. Lerner. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0101

Lerner, R. M., Almerigi, J. B., Theokas, C., & Lerner, J. V. (2005). Positive youth development: A view of the issues. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 10-16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431604273211

Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., Bowers, E., & Geldhof, G. J. (2015). Positive youth development and relational-developmental systems. In W. F. Overton & P. C. M. Molenaar (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: Theory and method (7th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 607-651), Editor-in-Chief: R. M. Lerner. Wiley.

Luengo Kanacri, B. P., Pastorelli, C., Eisenberg, N., Zuffianò, A., Castellani, V., & Caprara, G. V. (2014). Trajectories of prosocial behavior from adolescence to early adulthood: Associations with personality change. Journal of Adolescence, 37(5), 701-713. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2014.03.013

McArdle, J. J. (2009). Latent variable modeling of differences and changes with longitudinal data. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 577-605. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163612

Miller, P. J., & Goodnow, J. J. (1995). Cultural practices: Toward an integration of culture and development. In J. J. Goodnow, P. J. Miller, & F. Kessel (Eds.), Cultural practices as contexts for development. New directions for child development. No. 67: The Jossey-Bass education series (pp. 5-16). Jossey-Bass.

Mistry, R. S., Vandewater, E. A., Houston, A., C., & McLoyd, V. C. (2002). Economic well-being and children's social adjustment: The role of family process in an ethnically diverse low-income sample. Child Development, 73(3), 935-951. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00448

Muthén, B., & Asparouhov, T. (2014). IRT studies of many groups: The alignment method. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 978. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00978

Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998-2017). Mplus user’s guide. Author.

Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Carlo, G. (2007). Personal values as a mediator between parent and peer expectations and adolescent behaviors. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 538-541. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.21.3.538

Padilla-Walker, L. M., Carlo, G., Christensen, K. J., & Yorgason, J. (2012). Bidirectional relations between authoritative parenting and adolescents’ prosocial behaviors. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 22, 400-408. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2012.00807.x

Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Christensen, K. J. (2010). Empathy and self-regulation as mediators between parenting and adolescents’ prosocial behaviors toward strangers, friends, and family. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 545-551. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00695.x

Pastorelli, C., Barbaranelli, C., Cermak, I., Rozsa, S., & Caprara, G. V. (1997). Measuring emotional instability, prosocial behavior and aggression in pre-adolescents: A cross­national study. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 691-703. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(97)00056-1

Pastorelli, C., Lansford, J. E., Luengo Kanacri, B. P., Malone, P. S., Di Giunta, L., Bacchini, D., Bombi, A. S., Zelli, A., Miranda, M. C., Bornstein, M. H., Tapanya, S., Uribe Tirado, L. M., Peña Alampay, L., Al-Hassan, S. M., Chang, L., Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., Oburu, P., Skinner, A. T., & Sorbring, E. (2016). Positive parenting and children’s prosocial behavior in eight countries. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(7), 824-834. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12477

Putnick, D. L., Bornstein, M. H., Lansford, J. E., Chang, L., Deater-Deckard, K., Di Giunta, L., Dodge, K. A., Malone, P. S., Oburu, P., Pastorelli, C., Skinner, A. T., Sorbring, E., Tapanya, S., Uribe Tirado, L. M., Zelli, A., Peña Alampay, L., Al-Hassan, S. M., Bacchini, D., & Bombi, A. S. (2018). Parental acceptance-rejection and child prosocial behavior: Developmental transactions across the transition to adolescence in nine countries, mothers and fathers, and girls and boys. Developmental Psychology, 54, 1881-1890. https://doi.org/10. 1037/dev0000565

Putnick, D. L., Bornstein, M. H., Lansford, J. E., Malone, P. S., Pastorelli, C., Skinner, A. T., Sorbring, E., Tapanya, S., Uribe Tirado, L. M., Zelli, A., Peña Alampay, L., Al-Hassan, S. M., Bacchini, D., Bombi, A. S., Chang, L., Deater-Deckard, K., Di Giunta, L., Dodge, K. A., & Oburu, P. (2015). Perceived mother and father acceptance-rejection predict four unique aspects of child adjustment across nine countries. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(8), 923-932. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12366

Quinn, J. M., Wagner, R. K., Petscher, Y., Roberts, G., Menzel, A. J., & Schatschneider, C. (2020). Differential codevelopment of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension for students with and without learning disabilities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(3), 608-627. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000382

Rohner, R. P. (2005). Parental acceptance-rejection/control questionnaire (PARQ/control): Test manual. In R. P. Rohner & A. Khaleque (Eds.), Handbook for the study of parental acceptance and rejection (4th ed., pp. 137-186). University of Connecticut.

Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 25 (pp. 1-65). Academic Press.

Schwartz, S. H. (2010). Basic values: How they motivate and inhibit prosocial behavior. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior: The better angels of our nature (pp. 221-241). American Psychological Association.

Smetana, J. G., & Rote, W. M. (2019). Adolescent–parent relationships: Progress, processes, and prospects. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 1, 41-68. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-devpsych-121318-084903

Sorbring, E., & Lansford, J. E. (Eds.). (2019). School systems, parent behavior, and academic achievement: An international perspective. Springer.

Trommsdorff, G. (1995). Person-context relations as developmental conditions for empathy and prosocial action: A cross-cultural analysis. In T. A. Kindermann & J. Valsiner (Eds.), Development of person-context relations (pp. 189-208). Erlbaum.

United Nations Development Program. (2019). Human Development Report 2019: Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century. Author. http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2019.pdf

Valente M. J., & MacKinnon D. P. (2017). Comparing models of change to estimate the mediated effect in the pretest–posttest control group design. Structural Equation Modeling, 24(3), 428-450. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705511.2016.1274657

Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Losoya, S., Fabes, R. A., Reiser, M., Guthrie, I. K., & Shepard, S. A. (2002). The relations of parental warmth and positive expressiveness to children’s empathy-related responding and social functioning: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 73, 893-915. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00446

Zuffianò, A., Alessandri, G., Luengo Kanacri, B. P., Pastorelli, C., Milioni, M., Ceravolo, R., Caprara, M. V., & Caprara, G. V. (2014). The relation between prosociality and self-esteem from middle-adolescence to young adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 63, 24-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.041

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2021.1026

Copyright (c) 2021 Concetta Pastorelli, Antonio Zuffianò, Jennifer E. Lansford, Eriona Thartori, Marc H. Bornstein, Lei Chang, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Laura Di Giunta, Kenneth A. Dodge, Sevtap Gurdal, Qin Liu, Qian Long, Paul Oburu, Ann T. Skinner, Emma Sorbring, Laurence Steinberg, Sombat Tapanya, Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado, Saengduean Yotanyamaneewong, Suha Al-Hassan, Liane Peña Alampay, Dario Bacchini

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.