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Peer presence increases the prosocial behavior of adolescents by speeding the evaluation of outcomes for others

Sullivan, Nicolette J. ORCID: 0000-0003-0313-3856, Li, Rosa and Huettel, Scott A. (2022) Peer presence increases the prosocial behavior of adolescents by speeding the evaluation of outcomes for others. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Identification Number: 10.1038/s41598-022-10115-0


Peer presence can elicit maladaptive adolescent decision-making, potentially by increasing sensitivity to the rewards one receives. It remains unknown whether peer presence also increases adolescents’ sensitivity to others’ outcomes, which could have an adaptive effect in contexts allowing pro-social behaviors. Here, we combine social utility modeling and real-time decision process modeling to characterize how peer presence alters adolescents’ processing of self and other outcomes. We found that adolescents behaved selfishly when privately allocating monetary rewards for themselves and a peer in an incentive-compatible task. In peer presence, however, adolescents became more altruistic. Real-time decision process estimates collected using computer mouse tracking showed that altruistic behavior was associated with relatively earlier influence of peer-outcomes relative to self-outcomes, and that peer presence sped the influence of peer-outcomes without altering the time at which self-outcomes began to influence the decision process. Our results indicate a mechanism through which peer presence prompts greater prosocial behavior by altering how adolescents process prosocial outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 04 May 2022 11:09
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 17:30

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