The study, “Longitudinal Associations Between Support and Prosocial Behavior Across Adolescence: The Roles of Fathers, Mothers, Siblings, and Friends,” delves into how various forms of support influence the prosocial behaviors of adolescents over time. Conducted by Marije van Meegen and colleagues, this research tracks the evolution of prosocial behavior in relation to the autonomy and emotional support provided by key figures in an adolescent’s life—parents, siblings, and friends.

The research utilizes data collected over six years from a group of 497 Dutch adolescents, beginning at an average age of 13 years. It examines how these adolescents perceive and engage in prosocial behaviors—those intended to benefit others—within the framework of their relationships. The study aims to differentiate the influences that these relationships have on adolescents’ social behaviors, both at an individual (within-dyad) and relational (between-dyad) level.

The study’s findings underscore the significant influence of family and friends on adolescents’ prosocial behaviors. At the between-dyad level, positive associations were found across all family members and friends—meaning adolescents whose parents, siblings, and friends exhibited higher prosocial behaviors and support tended also to engage more in such behaviors themselves. This suggests a modeling effect, where adolescents learn and emulate the prosocial actions of those around them.

Within individual relationships, the dynamics vary. For example, the study highlights that relationships with mothers and friends are particularly influential, with strong links between the support received from these figures and the adolescents’ own prosocial behaviors. Interestingly, the influence of fathers and siblings, while still significant, shows variability, especially when accounting for gender differences.

The longitudinal approach of the study allows the researchers to explore how changes in prosocial behavior over time are influenced by earlier experiences of support or lack thereof. This aspect reveals that consistent support leads to increases in prosocial behaviors over time, reinforcing the importance of stable, supportive relationships during adolescence.

Importantly, the study also touches on gender differences, noting that these relationships and influences may manifest differently for male and female adolescents, thus suggesting that gender-specific approaches might be beneficial in fostering prosocial behavior.

Overall, the study by van Meegen et al. provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between adolescent development and the social environment, emphasizing the crucial role of supportive relationships in fostering prosocial behaviors that contribute to healthier societal interactions.


van Meegen, M., Van der Graaff, J., Carlo, G., Meeus, W., & Branje, S. (2024). Longitudinal associations between support and prosocial behavior across adolescence: The roles of fathers, mothers, siblings, and friends. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 53(5), 1134-1154. doi: