Being helpful to other-gender peers: School-age children's gender-based intergroup prosocial behaviour

Sonya Xinyue Xiao, Carol Lynn Martin, Tracy L. Spinrad, Nancy Eisenberg, Dawn DeLay, Laura D. Hanish, Richard A. Fabes, Krista Oswalt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Promoting prosocial behaviour towards those who are dissimilar from oneself is an urgent contemporary issue. Because children spend much time in same-gender relationships, promoting other-gender prosociality could help them develop more inclusive relationships. Our goals were to better understand the development of school-age children's intergroup prosocial behavior and the extent to which elementary school-age children consider their own and the recipient's gender in prosocial behaviour. Participants included 515 3rd, 4th and 5th graders (263, 51.1% boys, Mageinyears = 9.08, SD = 1.00) surveyed in the fall (T1) and spring (T2). We assessed children's prosociality using peer nominations. Children became more prosocial toward same-gender peers over time but prosocial behavior toward other-gender peers remained stable. We found that gender mattered: Children showed an ingroup bias in prosociality favouring members of their own-gender group. Having other-gender friendships positively predicted children's prosocial behaviour towards other-gender peers over time. Children's felt similarity to other-gender peers was not directly, but indirectly, related to more prosocial behaviour toward other-gender peers. Findings shed light on potential pathways to fostering school-age children's intergroup prosocial behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-538
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • cross-group friendships
  • gender
  • gender similarity
  • intergroup contact
  • intergroup relations
  • prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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