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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Mar;88(3):532-46.

Prosocial emotions and helping: the moderating role of group membership.

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  • 1Institut für Psychologie, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


In this article, the authors introduce and test a group-level perspective on the role of empathy and interpersonal attraction in helping. In line with our predictions, Study 1, a longitudinal field study of 166 AIDS volunteers, confirmed that empathy was a stronger predictor of helping when the recipient of assistance was an in-group member than when that person was an out-group member. Also as hypothesized, attraction was a stronger predictor of helping when the recipient was an out-group member than when that person was an in-group member. Study 2 replicated and further extended these results in a laboratory experiment on spontaneous helping of a person with hepatitis. Strengthening the validity of the findings, in both studies the effects of empathy and attraction held up even when the authors statistically controlled for potential alternative predictors of helping. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for helping in intergroup contexts are discussed.

((c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved).

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