• An Evolutionary-Developmental Perspective on Altruistic Thinking, Social Reasoning Skills, and Self-Perceptions in Middle Childhood

      Coccimiglio, Maria; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      This study utilized an evolutionary developmental framework to explore individual differences and relations among prosocial behaviours and social reasoning skills related to self-perceptions in middle childhood. There is little research in this area specifically, as an evolutionary developmental framework is seldom applied to this age group within the context of education. Participants (n=70) aged 9-11 years old were recruited from different schools under one school board. Participants completed self-report measures online that measured altruistic thinking, perceived academic competence, school-related perceived stress and pressure, global self-worth (GSW), theory of mind (ToM), and empathy. Results showed a significant difference in empathy between those who scored high versus low in altruistic thinking. Altruism was positively correlated with affective empathy and cognitive ToM (e.g., a type of social reasoning skill that involves cognitive perspective-taking), although cognitive ToM was not related to affective empathy. Perceived academic competence was positively correlated with GSW. High levels of perceived classroom-related stress and pressure were negatively correlated with perceived academic competence and GSW. In contrast, high levels of perceived stress and pressure positively correlated to high levels of affective empathy. Implications for practice include the development of strategies for educators to promote positive relationships and altruistic behaviours among students to aid in student well-being. Implications for research include support for the application of an evolutionary developmental perspective to the social domains of classroom dynamics.