3 years ago

Pro-social personality traits, helping behavior, and ego-depletion: Is helping really easier for the dispositionally pro-social?

The goal of the present study was to examine the motivational underpinnings of helping behavior by looking at self-regulatory demands in relation to pro-social personality traits. Across two experiments, we explored the idea that helping behavior is easier or more intrinsically motivated for those high in pro-social traits, and requires more effortful regulation for those low in pro-social traits. We reasoned that helping behavior may be less sensitive to fatigue, and less fatiguing, for pro-social people in an ego-depletion paradigm. Specifically, in Study 1 (n =79), we hypothesized that people high in pro-social traits would show better Stroop task performance, following an initial helping task. In Study 2 (n =91), we expected to find higher helping rates for those high on pro-social traits following a difficult Stroop task manipulation. Contrary to our predictions, Study 1 suggested that those high in pro-social traits were more cognitively depleted following helping, compared to those low in pro-social traits; in Study 2 high pro-social trait scores were associated with less persistence on a helping task following depletion. Overall, our findings suggest that helping behavior is more difficult or effortful for the dispositionally pro-social. Discussion focuses on possible explanations of and degree of confidence in this suggestion.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0191886917305056

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