Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1241–1258 | Cite as

Feel Good, Do Good Online? Spillover and Crossover Effects of Happiness on Adolescents’ Online Prosocial Behavior

  • Sara ErreygersEmail author
  • Heidi Vandebosch
  • Ivana Vranjes
  • Elfi Baillien
  • Hans De Witte
Research Paper


Although the majority of research on adolescents’ online behavior has focused on antisocial behavior such as cyberbullying, adolescents more often behave prosocially than antisocially online. Research on offline prosocial behavior has shown that happiness and prosocial behavior are related. Furthermore, spillover-crossover research suggests that emotional states originating in one context can spill over to another context and can even cross over from one person to another. Therefore, this study examined whether happiness is also related to adolescents’ online prosocial behavior and whether others’ (in this case, parents’) happiness also indirectly, via transmission to adolescents’ own happiness, predicts adolescents’ online prosocial behavior. Via a daily diary method, the associations of adolescents’ own happiness and their parents’ happiness with adolescents’ online prosocial behavior were tested on a daily level. The findings suggest that, on a daily level, happiness creates a ripple effect whereby adolescents and parents take their positive emotional states from school and work home, and adolescents act on their happiness by behaving more prosocially online. The strongest spillover and crossover effects were found for girls and their mothers, evoking questions for future research to understand these gender differences.


Happiness Online prosocial behavior Spillover Crossover Adolescents Parents 



This research was supported by the Research Foundation Flanders under grant FWO G.0335.14 N.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee for the Social Sciences and Humanities of the KU Leuven.

Human and Animal Rights Statement

This research involved human participants, who gave informed consent to participate.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication Studies, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Occupational and Organisational Psychology and Professional LearningKU LeuvenLouvainBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Work and Organisation StudiesKU LeuvenBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Optentia Research Focus AreaNorth-West UniversityVanderbijlparkSouth Africa

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