Difference Between Prosocial Behavior and Antisocial Behavior

Psychological concepts such as prosocial and antisocial conduct can be understood in light of evolutionary and social learning theories, which suggest that both are adaptive and teachable. There is some evidence that genetics, family history, peer pressure, and the social climate at school all have a role in the development of antisocial behavior. Nevertheless, people and animals alike display both prosocial and antisocial behaviours.

In contrast to antisocial conduct, which has a negative effect on others, prosocial activity is often approved of since it helps others around its practitioners. The next paragraphs will highlight their dissimilarities.

What is Prosocial Behavior?

Most dictionaries do not include the word "prosocial" in their definitions. Social scientists came up with the term as an antonym to "antisocial" (Batson, 2012). Any activity that benefits another person is referred to as prosocial conduct. These selfless deeds that benefit others are essential social activities. They are crucial for developing healthy relationships and adjusting to new environments (Dovidio, 2006).

Moreover, the definition of prosocial activity includes empathy or compassion. A donor and at least one receiver are needed for this to happen. We help each other out in many different ways, such as monetary donations to our favourite organisations and regular favours for friends, family, and even total strangers.

While assisting and sharing behaviors are essential for life, prosocial conduct is thought to have evolved as a preprogrammed biological function of humans. Intriguingly, this sort of behavior is also seen in animals and insects. For instance, monkeys groom other monkeys, and certain ant species with ill workers decrease their interaction with the colony's larvae to protect the susceptible individuals. Moreover, uninfected worker ants groom the diseased ones to remove spores (Riddihough, 2007).

Prosocial conduct can also be picked up through seeing and emulating the actions of others. Children's reenactment of cooperative and helpful actions has been linked to exposure to media displaying these traits, according to studies. This is consistent with Albert Bandura's social learning theory, which holds that people are profoundly impacted in their actions by the examples set by others around them.

The immune system is strengthened, oxytocin (a hormone that promotes social bonding) is released, and frontal cortical functions are facilitated by prosocial conduct. As it reduces the body's reaction to danger and encourages safe, mutually supportive relationships, it can also improve people's general well-being. Also, it promotes social peace, collaboration, and togetherness (Gilbert & Basran, 2019).

What is Antisocial Behavior?

Any action taken with the specific intent to do harm to or negatively affect another person is referred to as antisocial conduct. Harassment can take many forms, including physical assault, verbal abuse, and intimidation.

Psychiatrists use the term "antisocial conduct" to refer to repeated, willful disregard for social expectations. For instance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) characterizes antisocial personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of others’ rights. Examples of this include dishonesty, aggression, carelessness with others' safety, a general lack of responsibility, an absence of guilt, and similar behaviors. Environmental influences at home and at school, neurological disorders, and heredity all have a role.

According to evolutionary theory, antisocial tactics have been utilised to survive. For example, in the sake of self-preservation, competitors are threatened, intimidated, harmed, or even killed. While watching violent or hostile films and games has been found to encourage comparable antagonistic or less helpful behavior, antisocial conduct may also be learnt. Bandura's social learning hypothesis is consistent with these findings.

Antisocial behavior is often frowned upon since it increases stress and threat processing. It also weakens the motivation for trust, unity, and harmony in communities and reduces the security and cooperation of partnerships. As a result, this might have a detrimental effect on people's general health (Gilbert & Basran, 2019).

Differences: Prosocial Behavior and Antisocial Behavior

The following table highlights the major differences between Prosocial Behavior and Antisocial Behavior −


Prosocial Behavior

Antisocial Behavior


Every activity that assists another person is considered prosocial behavior.

Any action taken with the specific intent to do harm to or negatively affect another person is referred to as antisocial conduct.


Sharing, giving, being kind, expressing care, and other acts of helpful behavior are all examples of prosocial behavior.

Threats, bullying, graffiti, discrimination, dishonesty, a lack of remorse, and other unpleasant actions are examples of antisocial behavior.

Physiological Effects

The immune system is strengthened, the hormone oxytocin is released, and frontal cortical functions are facilitated by prosocial behavior.

As it fosters mutually helpful and secure social connections, prosocial conduct can improve overall health by reducing the processing of threats.

Threat perception and stress response mechanisms are both amplified by antisocial conduct.

Anxiety may be exacerbated by antisocial behavior, which weakens trusting and cooperative relationships and increases stress reactions.


In summary, Prosocial behavior, and antisocial behavior are two opposite ends of a spectrum of human actions that can affect the well-being of others. Prosocial behavior refers to actions that are intended to benefit others, while antisocial behavior refers to actions that harm or disregard the rights of others.

Prosocial behavior can have a positive impact on the well-being of individuals and communities, promoting social cohesion and a sense of belonging. Antisocial behavior can have a negative impact on the well-being of individuals and communities, leading to conflict, mistrust, and social fragmentation.

Updated on: 26-Apr-2023


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