Search Appropriateness Statement Package
Prosocial Modeling – Evidence-based practice
Summary of the Evidence
- The evidence shows that prosocial modeling is effective in reducing recidivism.
- There is evidence that supervision models that include prosocial modeling have lower recidivism rates compared to those that do not.
- Evidence shows that clients prefer working with an officer who promotes success through positive communication, active listening, respect, and empathy.
What is Prosocial Modeling?
- Prosocial modeling refers to the display of positive behaviors that benefit others, such as kind interactions, addressing conflict instead of getting angry, and respecting others.
- Prosocial values include respect for others and the legal authorities.
- Prosocial modeling includes the following skills:
- prosocial expressions and actions
- negatively reinforcing or confronting pro-criminal actions in a manner that addresses the behavior while allowing for the possibility of change
- collaborative problem-solving instead of demanding one perspective; weighing costs and benefits
- role clarification
- establishing the boundaries of the officer's law-enforcement and social work roles
- transparent discussions about the use of authority
- providing space for clients to express preferences and concerns about officers’ role and/or use of authority
- collaborative decision-making
- Clients perform better on supervision when they work with officers who exhibit these skills.
How Is It Used?
- Officers model prosocial values in a variety of ways, including through their actions, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and empathy.
- Officers should promote the following prosocial behaviors: complying with supervision conditions, being punctual, not offending, collaborative problem-solving, expressing empathy, and treating others with respect.
- To establish legitimacy, officers should behave in a way that aligns with the values they will promote to clients.
- Officers can reinforce their client’s prosocial values through their body language (e.g., smiling, active listening) and verbally through words of affirmation and acknowledgment.
- Officers can reinforce their client’s prosocial behaviors through rewards.
- Effective rewards can be material (i.e., clothing referrals, transportation services), reducing the frequency of contact, or investing additional time helping the client.
- Officers can effectively negatively reinforce non-prosocial behaviors by giving space for clients to express their negative feelings, suggesting alternative perspectives or behaviors, and working with clients to find new ways to deal with difficulties.
- Officers should avoid harsh criticism and confrontation during these encounters.
How Can It Be Used to Monitor Compliance?
- Prosocial modeling is not designed as a tool to monitor compliance.
How Can It Be Used as a Supervision Tool?
- Officers who model the prosocial behaviors they promote to their clients establish their legitimacy.
- Officers exhibiting prosocial behaviors while using communication techniques to reinforce their client’s positive behavior solidifies their position as a change agent.
- The skills included in prosocial modeling (i.e., exhibiting empathy, respect, positive communication, active listening) are aligned with those promoted by evidence-based supervision models.
What Are the Costs of Prosocial Modeling?
- There are no financial costs of prosocial modeling.
- The only potential cost of prosocial modeling for officers is their time. Prosocial modeling may cause contacts between client and officer to run longer than they would otherwise.
What Do Supervision Staff Think?
- Supervision staff report that prosocial modeling is
- sometimes appropriate for all low-risk clients except for those with serious mental illness, for whom it is always appropriate and
- always appropriate for all medium- to high-risk clients.
What Should You Expect When Using Prosocial Modeling?
- There is evidence that clients working with officers who exhibit prosocial behaviors have more success on supervision.
- Evidence shows that prosocial modeling is related to increased client satisfaction on supervision.
Is Prosocial Modeling an Evidence-Based Practice?
- Yes, there is evidence that supervision models that include prosocial modeling have lower recidivism rates compared to those that do not.
What Do People Formerly Involved in the Criminal Legal System Think About Prosocial Modeling?
- People with lived experience in the criminal legal system (the “criminal justice” or “legal” system is referred to as the criminal legal system in this document) report that prosocial modeling is
- sometimes appropriate for all low-risk clients and
- sometimes appropriate for all medium- to high-risk clients.
Communication That Strengthens the Officer-Client Relationship (Messaging)
- Officers should offer encouragement to their clients when they see them exhibiting prosocial behavior.
- Officers should explain to their clients how they will be rewarded for their prosocial behavior.
- Officers should avoid overly harsh criticism or confrontation when negatively reinforcing the harmful behaviors of their clients.
- Officers should use positive communication and rapport-building techniques when collaborating with their clients to work through difficult moments.
Special Considerations When Using Prosocial Modeling with Subpopulations
Intimate Partner Violence
Serious Mental Illness
Substance Use Disorder