Prior research has indicated that an individual adolescent's behavior is influenced by the behavior of his or her classmates. But while most studies have focused on negative peer influence, a studypublished in Journal of Adolescence investigates whether individual anti-social behaviors in adolescents can potentially be reduced by promoting prosocial behavior at the classroom level.
In order to determine whether classmates' prosocial behavior is related to lower anti-social behavior of students, Verena Hofmann and Christoph Michael Müller conducted a longitudinal study among lower secondary school students in Switzerland (mean age = 13.8 years). The sample included 55 classrooms in eight schools, and the researchers analyzed data collected at the end of Grade 7, Grade 8, and Grade 9. Participants completed self-reported assessments on prosocial behavior, anti-social behavior, and anti-social attitudes. Classmates' pro- and anti-social behavior for each student was calculated by averaging all students' scores in a class, excluding the students' own score.
While children generally developed more anti-social behavior over time, particularly those who had higher initial levels of anti-social behavior, results indicated that more prosocial behavior among classmates predicted lower levels of individual anti-social behavior and anti-social attitudes in the future.
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