Direct and mediated long-term effects of the positive youth development intervention program Try Volunteering on empathy and prosocial behavior
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The primary aim of the current study was to evaluate the 16-months follow-up effects of the short-term school-based positive youth development (PYD) intervention program Try Volunteering on empathy and prosocial behavior. The secondary aim was to test the theory of change in prosocial behavior through the change of empathy in the intervention settings. The quasi-experimental study design (pre-test, post-test, follow-up at 4 months and follow-up at 16 months) was used for the program efficacy evaluation. The current study assessed 538 students, 272 from the intervention school (49.1% girls, aged from 13 to 16 (Mage = 15.26; SDage = 0.69) at pre-test) and 264 from the control school (40.1% girls, aged from 14 to 17 (Mage = 15.24; SDage = 0.65) at pre-test). The results of the multivariate Latent Growth Curve analysis indicated that empathy increased significantly in the intervention group and remained stable in the control group. No significant change was found in either of groups for prosocial behavior. In addition, the results revealed that the positive change in empathy fully mediates the relationship between program participation and positive change in prosocial behavior. The present findings highlighted the relevance of promoting empathy in school settings as a strategy for fostering prosocial behavior during adolescence as the positive contribution to community and society.
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