English Paper on Moral Development and Prosocial Behavior

Moral Development and Prosocial Behavior

Moral development and prosocial behavior are due to nurture and not to nature. Taking the definition of Gilligan (2008) into consideration, morality refers to the compound set of standards of the right and wrong conduct. Morality includes features such as honesty and compassion towards other people’s needs. Prosocial behavior is defined as the concern and intention to assist others (Tronto, 2005). Even though genes define the behavior of an individual, the manner in which a person is nurtured plays a huge role in the prosocial behavior.

According to Narvaez et al (2013), the hormone oxytocin, which is concerned with the relationship between nature and nurture, regulates social behavior. This implies that issues related to love and trust are defined by genetics. However, the environment defines the tendency towards a given conduct. This implies further that personal experience plays a significant role in human behavior, as evidenced in the relationships parents have with their children. When a parent shows more affection and understanding to their child, an offspring tends to reciprocate the affection they receive to other people. Besides this, human beings are defined by the society. In cases where the moral standards of a society are low, children in that locality tend to depict bad morals irrespective of the genetic makeup.

Emotions are grounded biologically (Tronto, 2005). However, connection with the moral actions is defined by experience and learning. The connection between emotions and moral behavior is, therefore, universal, whereas feelings on diverse behavior are at variance. This variation further proves that society plays a significant role in the moral development of children. This is displayed further in the lives of children whose parents discipline them. Such children tend to feel more guilt after hurting others than children who have not undergone any form of discipline. Besides this, a person can develop to embrace a certain behavior, such as empathy, although they may not have depicted such a behavior initially. This implies that the society has the ability to nurture such characters in the lives of individuals. Affirming that moral development and prosocial behavior are due to nature rather than nurture implies, therefore, that education and training play minimal role and that human beings are slaves to their genetic makeup.



Gilligan, C. (2008). Moral orientation and moral development. In A. Bailey & C. Cuomo (Eds.), The feminist philosophy reader (pp. 467-477). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Narvaez, D., Wang, L., Gleason, T., Cheng, Y., Lefever, J., & Deng, L. (2013). The evolved developmental niche and sociomoral outcomes in Chinese three-year-olds. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10(2), 106-127.

Tronto, C. J. (2005). An ethic of care. In A. Cudd & R. Andreasen (Eds.), Feminist theory: A philosophical anthology (pp. 251-263). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.