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Observation and Rehearsal as Determinants of Prosocial Behavior NICHD

Rosenhan, David L.; White, Glenn M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Altruism., Observational Learning, Pro-social Behavior, Role Models


A study in altruistic behavior. Fourth- and fifth-grade Ss played a bowling game, once in the presence of an adult model and once in his or her absence. Each time the model won gift certificates, he or she donated half of them to a charity. No control Ss, who did not observe a model, contributed to the charity while playing alone. Among Ss who observed the model, it was primarily those Ss who contributed in the model's presence, who also contributed in his or her absence, suggesting that rehearsal as well as observation were necessary for the elicitation of this phenomenon. The valence (positive or negative) and occurrence of a prior relationship with the model had peculiar and perhaps indeterminate effects on the elicitation of altruistic behavior.

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