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Outgroup prosocial behaviour among children and adolescents in conflict settings

2022-04, Moran, Deirdre, Taylor, Laura K.

Over 420 million children live amid political conflict. In such settings, understanding the development of prosocial behaviours, specifically directed at outgroups, can provide opportunities for peacebuilding. Informed by research on intergroup competition and structural inequality, we focus on outgroup prosocial behaviour targeting conflict rivals. Already from a young age, children are politically socialised and show intergroup biases that dampen helping behaviours toward conflict rivals, which continues into adulthood. We review factors that shape youth’s interpersonal helping, as well as broader forms of prosociality, such as civic engagement, across group lines. We conceptualise outgroup prosocial behaviour along a continuum, ranging from interpersonal acts to broader structural and cultural constructive change. We conclude with directions for future research.