Personality Traits of Altruistic People: Empathy and the Big Five Factors
Tait, Dorothy dissertation 2009.doc (415.5Kb)
Tait, Dorothy J
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Previous research has shown that empathy and personality is related to helping behaviour. This study looks at helping in relation to affective empathy and Costa and McCrae’s (1992) Big Five personality traits, using both males (n = 22) and females (n = 32). It also looks at helping in relation to people’s dispositional levels of altruism, empathy and personal distress, which have not been widely looked at in previous research. These are measured before and after exposure to a help-provoking story in the media, to see if they changed with manipulation. Perspective-taking instructions showed that people in the high-empathy condition became empathically aroused and more likely to help. People who were generally empathic were more likely to be empathically aroused in these situations. Cognitive empathy and personal distress decreased with manipulation, but altruism remained stable, supporting the altruistic-personality theory. Overall, people who were high on Extraversion and Agreeableness were high on altruism. Therefore, Agreeableness and Extraversion may be essential traits that make up the altruistic personality. People high on these traits are generally more empathic and more likely to help. We also took gender and ‘oneness’ into account.