The association between empathy, the Big 5 Dimensions of personality and prosocial behaviour: What causes individuals to act prosocially?
Julie Gray - UG Dissertation.pdf (580.4Kb)
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The topic of whether humans are altruistically motivated to behave in prosocial manner has been at the centre of debate for many years. Feeling empathy for another individual has been found to be crucial in the decision to act prosocially, for example, to help an individual in need. Additional antecedents of prosocial behaviour have been proposed, such as valuing another’s welfare (Batson & Eklund, 2007), perceived oneness the person in need and relationship to the person in need (Cialdini et al, 1997). Personality has also been investigated as an antecedent of prosocial behaviour, with Agreeableness shown to be the only personality dimension associated with helping. This study aimed to further investigate the association of personality, specifically Agreeableness, empathic concern and personal distress to helping in an experiment manipulating empathy via perspective taking instructions, and assessing self reports of empathic concern, personal distress and the 5 dimensions of personality (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Goldberg, 1992), with an unexpected opportunity to help the victim. Higher Agreeableness was found to be associated with increased helping, as were higher levels of empathic concern and personal distress. Gender was also found to be a mediating factor in helping the person in need, with females reporting higher levels of helping, despite the levels of reported empathic concern and personal distress being similar across genders. The study concluded that feeling empathy for another and Agreeableness are fundamental aspects of prosocial behaviour.