Psychology year 11: pro social and anti social behaviour essay plan notes page

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on 08/11/2018 at in  Science


Definition of prosocial behaviour:

Is voluntary, intentional helping behaviour or acts of kindness that are meant to benefit others that typically have good social consequences. Someone can be prosocial because of their: biology, learnt behaviours or sense of empathy

Definition of antisocial behaviour:

Voluntary intentional behaviour designed to hurt or cause distress to another person physically or psychologically in a direct or indirect way. Can be in three forms: voluntary (when someone voluntarily engages in anti-social behaviour), intentional (with the intention is to hurt someone else) or harmful (physical or relational aggression).


The impact of prosocial behaviour:

Reciprocity and pride in the sense of achievement

e.g. when Janice and Damian let Cady sit next to them and tell her she’s their friend she feels inclined to skip health class to sit with them, ‘I wasn’t going to pass down friends’


The impact of antisocial behaviour:

People are physically and emotionally harmed, as this is the intention of the anti-social person:

When Cady witnesses Regina kissing Aron right after she had asked her to talk to him for her she flees the house where the party is and cries while saying she had, ‘a lump in my throat like after you dry swallow a pill, I hated Regina, I hated her’.



People develop in their own unique ways. A person’s antisocial behaviour can because of their biology, their personality or the behaviours they have learned. These three contributing factors each have theories that support them and concepts that are applicable in many social situations.

A study by Bear, Connors and Paradiso on monkeys in 2007 revealed the link between the biology of an animal and its behaviours, particularly aggression. When a monkey’s brain had bilateral lesions made to its amygdala it became passive and fell to the bottom of the hierarchy whereas when its amygdala was electrically stimulated the monkey became increasingly aggressive. The psychological idea that someone’s biology can affect their antisocial behaviour can be seen in the film Mean Girls (2004) when the antagonist is introduced with the phrase, ‘evil takes a human form in Regina George’. The suggestion that she is inherently ‘evil’ is carried throughout the film as at the end, the year group reconciles with each other and she joins a lacrosse team to ‘channel her anger’ while other students seem to stop behaving antisocially altogether.


There is a psychological idea that certain attributes and personality traits predict certain behaviours. For example, Britt and Garrity (2006) found that people with hostile and blame attributes tended to display angry and aggressive behaviours while driving. In the movie Mean Girls even though there tends not to be many people with road-rage, the personalities of certain characters effect their behaviour. For example, during a session where the students wrote apologies to people they had hurt, one girl, Gretchen Wieners, said, ‘I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me, but I can’t help it that I’m popular’. Her arrogance and self-superior attitude and behaviour is reflective of her dominant personality throughout the film.


A person’s upbringing and particularly the behaviours which they have learned and adopted have been proved to be a direct reflection on whether they develop as antisocial or prosocial people. Psychologist John Watson believed after his experiment on classic conditioning 1920 that all individual differences in behaviour were due to different experiences of learning ( In Mean Girls this is seen as Cady Heron develops from a shy and innocent home-schooled teenager to, as another character in the film states, ‘a mean girl…a bitch’. This is because after spending a lot of time with the popular ‘plastics’ she has become accustomed to their social normalities to become one of them. As Watson shows in his study Cady has learned to behave a certain way through the prolonged proximity to the mean girls and through the observation of their social norms. ‘If you sleep with dogs, you get fleas’ and as the character of Janice says, ‘you’re no pretending anymore, you’re plastic, cold, hard plastic’.



There are 3 types of antisocial behaviours: all of which can be direct or indirect:

-       Voluntary

-       Intentional

-       Harmful

V: ‘Girls’ tendency to harm each other in indirect ways was consistent with relational goals associated with manipulation of friendships’ (In the eye of the beholder- Owens, Shute and Slee)

-       Chooses to engage in antisocial behaviour

-       Candy canes by Cady


I: the alleviation of boredom and creation of excitement were also important factors in girls’ aggressive behaviour toward peers

-       Intention of hurting someone else

-       We decided it would be fun to ruin Regina George’s life ‘fun little experiment’


H: including gaining attention and impressing same-sex peers so as to be included in the peer group

-       Phys aggression or Rel aggression

-       Cady talks about how Janice is weird



2 strategies used in reducing anti behaviours and increase pro behaviours

1.     Develop the ability to empathise

Norberry put your hand up if you’ve ever had a friend say something bad about you behind your back

If you’ve ever been called a slut

2.     Restorative justice

Not punish but opportunity to become aware of the impact of their behaviour, to understand how they should take responsibility for their actions and take steps towards putting things right (Drewery 2004) involves a mediator


Human nature, school workplace, society to reduce anti social behaviour


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