The Role of Emotional Reactivity, Self-regulation, and Puberty in Adolescents' Prosocial Behaviors

Gustavo Carlo, Lisa J. Crockett, Jennifer M. Wolff, Sarah J. Beal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


This study was designed to examine the roles of emotional reactivity, self-regulation, and pubertal timing in prosocial behaviors during adolescence. Participants were 850 sixth graders (50percent female, mean age=11.03, standard deviation=17) who were followed up at the age of 15. In hierarchical regression models, measures of emotional reactivity, self-regulation, pubertal timing, and their interactions were used to predict (concurrently and over time) adolescents' prosocial behaviors in the home and with peers. Overall, the findings provide evidence for pubertal and temperament-based predictors of prosocial behaviors expressed in different contexts. Self-regulation was positively related to both forms of prosocial behavior, concurrently and longitudinally. Emotional reactivity showed moderately consistent effects, showing negative concurrent relations to prosocial behavior with peers and negative longitudinal relations (4 years later) to prosocial behavior at home. Some curvilinear effects of temperament on prosocial behaviors were also found. Effects of pubertal timing were found to interact with gender, such that boys who were early maturers showed the highest levels of prosocial behavior at home concurrently. Discussion focuses on the role of temperament-based mechanisms in the expression of prosocial behaviors in different contexts in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-685
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Emotionality
  • Prosocial behaviors
  • Puberty
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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