Paulina Guerra and Florencia De Sanctis, doctoral students, presented the “Hero” program, directed by Dr Belén Mesurado, associate researcher of the Institute of Philosophy, at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development held on the city of Baltimore from the 21st to the 23th of March. The meeting gathers psychologists from around the world interested in the study of child development. The paper “Hero program”: a technological application to promote social–emotional variables and prosocial behavior, co-authored by Belén Mesurado, M. José Distefano, Paulina Guerra, Florencia De Sanctis and Lucas M. Rodriguez, was presented.

Here you can read the abstract:

One of the most frequently used definitions of prosocial behavior is the one proposed by Eisenberg, Fabes, and Spinrad (2006), who define it as all voluntary, social, and positive acts that are intended to help or benefit another person or group of people (Eisenberg, Fabes, & Spinrad, 2006). The literature indicates that prosocial behavior is a relatively “malleable” variable that can be fostered through proper educational actions (e.g., Bandura, 1997; Eisenberg et al., 2006). Several authors maintain that it is important to promote prosociality in children and adolescents to contribute to healthy and positive growth (Kanacri et al., 2014; Lam, 2012). The online Hero program was developed to promote prosocial behaviors through the promotion of five-related social–emotional variables (empathy, emotional recognition, positive emotions, gratitude, and forgiveness) as well as the direct promotion of prosocial behavior itself. These five socio- emotional variables were selected because they were pliable, they have been supported by effective strategies for stimulation, and they are social values shared by different cultures (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). An intervention with these characteristics was selected with the intention of achieving changes, not only behavioral but also in the subjacent aspects with the objective of obtaining long-lasting effects.

The objective of this presentation is to study the program’s effectiveness in promoting prosocial behaviors and others social–emotional variables (empathy, gratitude, forgiveness, and positive emotions).

Results showed that Hero was effective on promoting empathy, gratitude, positive emotions and prosocial behaviors, but was not effective on promoting forgiveness.