La conducta prosocial comprende comportamientos altruistas en favor de otras personas y conlleva un beneficio social mayor como la cooperación y el apoyo y cuidado de los demás. El comportamiento prosocial resulta también en un beneficio personal al tener éste un efecto social positivo para quien lo realiza, asociado a resultados significativos para el ajuste psicosocial de los jóvenes. El objetivo de este estudio fue identificar predictores de la conducta prosocial en adolescentes mexicanos que viven en condiciones de pobreza. Se analizaron los datos de 1093 adolescentes, provenientes de una muestra nacional probabilística de hogares de localidades rurales y urbanas que están inscritos en un programa gubernamental de combate a la pobreza (55.8% hombres, 61% urbanos, edad promedio 14.92 años y escolaridad promedio 8.33 años cursados). No se encontraron diferencias en conducta prosocial por tipo de localidad; pero sí por género en favor de las mujeres, aunque el tamaño del efecto fue pequeño. El modelamiento de ecuaciones estructurales mostró que niveles más elevados de conducta prosocial dependen de mayor competencia social, relaciones positivas con los pares, apoyo social general y de amigos, estilo parental permisivo y soledad; así como de menor oposicionismo y menor cantidad de menores de 12 años en el hogar. El modelo explicó el 60% de la varianza de la conducta prosocial en los adolescentes. Los mejores predictores de la conducta prosocial fueron el comportamiento social y el apoyo percibido: Quienes son socialmente más eficientes, exitosos y más apoyados, tienden a retribuir con mayor altruismo hacia sus pares.
Prosocial behavior refers to altruistic behavior in favor of other people. Prosocial behavior also results in a personal benefit for those who perform it, because it has a positive social effect and plays a transcendental role in the development of young people and their psychosocial adjustment. The present study analyses some social behaviors of adolescents living in poverty, with the aims of determining the predictors of their prosocial behavior and possible differences in prosocial behavior by gender and by type of place of residence. Two hypotheses were tested: that there are gender differences in the prosocial behavior of adolescents and that the social behavior of adolescents predicts their tendency towards prosocial behavior. No hypothesis was established for the type of locality. In this survey participated 1093 adolescents, 55.8%men, 61% from urban localities, average age of 14.92 (SD = 1.29) years, and average schooling 8.33 (SD = 1.71) years. Access to the national registry of the government's poverty reduction program was attained, from which a probabilistic selection of registered households was obtained, with national representativeness for the rural and urban domains. Households with adolescent children were selected from the national sample of households, to visit them in a second survey to interview the children of the heads of these households. Analyses were conducted to determine differences in prosocial behavior by gender and urbanization. Results showed that male and female scores differed significantly, in favor of females. However, the prosocial behavior scores of rural and urban youths did not differ significantly. To identify potential predictors of prosocial behavior, a structural equation modeling was performed. The model included a latent variable called Socialization, which was made up of scales that measure social competence, positive relationships with peers, social support and support from friends. Permissive parental style, oppositional behavior, loneliness, religiosity, and the number of children under 12 in the household were also tested. The resulting model showed that Socialization was the main predictor of the prosocial behavior of adolescents. Permissive parental style and loneliness were also positive predictors of prosocial behavior; while oppositional behavior and the number of children under the age of 12 in the household predicted it negatively. The tested model reached an adequate fit and explained 61% of the total variance of prosocial behavior. The present data supported the hypotheses of the study since we observed gender differences in the prosocial behavior of adolescents; and the structural equations modeling confirmed the relative importance of indicators of social behavior, grouped into Socialization, in the prediction of prosocial behavior. However, prosocial behavior did not differ by type of residence. The findings confirmed the close relationship between interpersonal relationships, social support, and prosocial behavior; since those who were socially more efficient and successful, and received more support tended to reciprocate with greater altruism towards their peers. Additionally, less oppositional behavior was associated with greater altruism. The positive relationship between loneliness and prosocial behavior indicated that the tendency towards social isolation promotes altruistic behavior. Results also suggested that less disciplinary parental control promotes behavior in favor of others; but not the coexistence with young children. No direct relationship between religiosity and prosocial behavior was found. Among the strengths of this study should be mentioned that the results obtained came from a national probabilistic sample of households and the large size of the sample; as well as some caveats like the cross-sectional design of the survey and the use of self-reports. However, we consider that it is possible to use the present results in the planning of intervention strategies with adolescents, with the purpose of stimulating prosocial behavior in future generations.