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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2006 Jul;32(7):943-56.

Empathy-motivated 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 present two laboratory experiments testing a group-level perspective on the role of empathy in helping. Experiment 1 tested the authors' predictions in an intercultural context of helping. Confirming their specific Empathy x Group Membership moderation hypothesis, empathy had a stronger effect on helping intentions when the helper and the target belonged to the same cultural group than when they belonged to different groups. Experiment 2 replicated these findings in a modified minimal group paradigm using laboratory-created groups. Moreover, this second experiment also provides evidence for the hypothesized psychological mechanisms underlying the empathy-(ingroup) helping relationship. Specifically, analyses in the ingroup condition confirmed that the strength of the empathy-(ingroup) helping relationship systematically varied as a function of perceived similarities among ingroup members. The general implications of these findings for empathy-motivated helping are discussed.

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