Prosocial behavior is critical to address global social, environmental, and economic challenges. Yet humans often do not act with the benefit of others in mind, especially when those others are distant and unknown. We suggest that a failure to act prosocially may stem in part from cognitive and emotional capacity limitations. Hence an intervention that reduces worry about the self and thereby increases available resources may foster prosociality. Starting from self-affirmation theory which posits that affirming the self can establish self-integrity, we propose that a values affirmation intervention can motivate prosociality through fostering positive self-regard. Across two studies we find that, compared to control participants, affirmed participants display greater willingness to volunteer time and exhibit increased actual prosocial behavior by completing an unpaid study and donating real money to charity. As hypothesized, increases in positive self-regard mediate the effect of values affirmation on prosocial behavioral intentions as well as behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology