An Exploratory Study of Altruism in Greek Children: Relations with Empathy, Resilience and Classroom Climate
Sophie Leontopoulou
DOI: 10.4236/psych.2010.15047   PDF    HTML     9,573 Downloads   19,016 Views   Citations


The aims of this exploratory study were two-fold: a. to identify any relations between children’s altruism and a set of demographic and other personal and social characteristics of Greek children, such as empathy, resilience and classroom climate; and b. to examine the psychometric properties of a newly-developed measure of altruistic behaviour in children, namely the Altruistic Behaviour Questionnaire (ABQ). 232 male and female students of the 5th and 6th class of Primary School in Northern Greece participated in this study. The ABQ was found to have adequate internal consistency and concurrent and construct validity. Using a hierarchical regression analysis, altruism in children was found to be reliably predicted by participants’ gender and academic performance, by empathy and also by resilience; nevertheless, the more socially determined variable of classroom climate only marginally predicted altruism. The importance of including training in the development and manifestation of altruism in emotional education programmes and resilience interventions at school is highlighted.

Share and Cite:

Leontopoulou, S. (2010). An Exploratory Study of Altruism in Greek Children: Relations with Empathy, Resilience and Classroom Climate. Psychology, 1, 377-385. doi: 10.4236/psych.2010.15047.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Block, J. (1993). Ego resilience through time. In Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development. New Orleans, LA.
[2] Βollnow, O. (1970). Die p?dagogische Atmosph?re. Heidelberg.
[3] Bryant, B. (1982). An index of empathy for children and adolescents. Child Development, 53, 413-425.
[4] Batson, C. D. (1991). The altruism question: Toward a social-psycho- logical answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[5] Comte, A. ([1851] 1975). System of positive polity (Vol. 1). London, UK: Longmans, Green, and Co.
[6] Eisenberg, N. (1992). The caring child. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[7] Eisenberg, N., & Morris, A. S. (2001). The origins and social significance of empathy-related responding, Social Justice, 14, 95-120.
[8] Eisenberg, N., & Mussen, P. H. (1997). The roots of prosocial behavior in children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[9] Fraser, B. J., Anderson, G. J., & Walberg, H. J. (1982). Assessment of learning environments: Manual for learning environment inventory LEI and my class inventory MCI. Perth, Australia: Western Australian Institute of Technology.
[10] Friedman, E. (2007)., May 23, 2007. Internet available: php?id=298&article=1.
[11] Hay, D. F. (2009). Commentary. The roots and branches of human altruism. British Journal of Psychology, 100, 473-479.
[12] Hoffman, M. L. (1981). Is altruism part of human nature? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 121-137.
[13] Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
[14] Internet available:
[15] Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1983). Social interdependence and perceived academic and personal support in the classroom. Journal of Social Psychology, 120, 77-82.
[16] Kakavoulis, A. K. (1997). Synaisthimatiki anaptyxi kai agogi (2nd ed.). Athina: Ekdoseis Grigoris.
[17] Kakavoulis, A. K. (1998a). Early childhood altruism: How parents see prosocial behavior in their young children. Early Child Development and Care, 140, 115-126.
[18] Kakavoulis, A. K. (1999). Paidikos altruismos. Pos ta paidia ekdilonoun tin agapi toys: Theoritiki kai erevnitiki proseggisi. Athina: Af-toekdosi.
[19] Kohler, F. W., & Fowler, S. A. (1985). Training prosocial behaviors to young children: An analysis of reciprocity with untrained peers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 187-200.
[20] Leontopoulou, S. (2008). Psychiki anthektikotita kata tin efiveia: Psychokoinonikes paremvaseis stin oikogeneia, sto scholeio kai stin koinotita. In E. Kourkoutas and J.-P. Chartier (eds), Paidia kai efivoi me psychokoinonikes kai mathisiakes diataraches: Stratigikes paremvasis. Athina: Ekdoseis Topos.
[21] Long, G. T., & Lerner, M. J. (1974). Deserving the “personal contract” and altruistic behavior by children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 551-556.
[22] Macaulay, J. R., & Berkowitz, L. (Eds.) (1970). Altruism and helping behavior. New York: Academic Press.
[23] Matsagouras, E. (2000). I Sxoliki Taxi Grigoris: Athina.
[24] McGuire, K. D., & Weisz, J. R. (1982). Social cognition and behavior correlates of preadolescense chumship. Child Development, 53, 1478-1484.
[25] Mehrabian, A., & Epstein, N. (1972). A measure of emotional empathy. Journal of Personality, 40, 525-543.
[26] Midlarsky, E., & Hannah, M. E. (1985). Competence, reticence, and helping by children and adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 21, 534-541.
[27] Neill, J. T., & Dias, K. L. (2001). Adventure Education and Resilience: The Double-Edged Sword. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 12, 35-42.
[28] Piliavin, J. A., Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., & Clark, R. D. (1981). Emergency intervention. New York: Academic Press.
[29] Piliavin, J. A. (2009). Altruism and helping: the evolution of a field. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72, 209-225.
[30] Radke-Yarrow, M., Zahn-Waxler, C., & Chapman, M. (1983). Children’s prosocial dispositions and behavior. In P. Mussen, & E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Manual of child psychology (Vol. 4: Socialization, personality, and social development, pp. 469-545). New York: Wiley.
[31] Radke-Yarrow, M., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (1986). Socialization in the family, childhood groups and society. In D. J. Olweus, M. Block, & M. Radke-Yarrow (Eds.), Development of antisocial and prosocial behavior: Research, theories & issues (Developmental Psychology Series). New York: Academic Press.
[32] Rutter, M. (2000). School effects on pupil progress. Research findings and policy implications. In P. K. Smith & A. D. Pellegrini (Eds.), Psychology of education: Major themes (Vol. 1, pp. 3-50). London: Falmer Press.
[33] Seligman, M., Internet available:
[34] Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (1998). Unto others: the evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[35] Stalikas, A., & Hamodraka, M. (2004). I ensynaisthisi stin psycho- therapeia. Athina: Ellinika Grammata.
[36] Stanton-Salazar, R. D., & Spina, S. U. (2005). Adolescent peer networks as a context for social and emotional support. Youth & Society, 36, 379-417.
[37] Staub, E. (1971). Helping a person in distress: The influence of implicit and explicit rules of conduct on children and adults. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17, 137-145.
[38] Sutton, J., & Keogh, E. (2000). Social competition in school: Relationships with bullying, Machiavellianism and personality. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 443-456.
[39] Triliva, S., & Chimienti, G. (2002). Anakalipsi, autognosia, autokyriarchia, autoektimisi: Synaisthimatike kai koinonike epidexiotita. Ena egcheiridio technikon. Athina: Ekdoseis Pataki.
[40] Wagnild, G. M., & Young, H. M. (1993). Development and psychometric evaluation of the Resilience Scale. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 1, 165-178.
[41] Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2009). The roots of human altruism. British Journal of Psychology, 100, 455-471.
[42] Wispé, L. G. (1972). Positive forms of social behavior: An overview. Journal of Social Issues, 28, 1-19.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.