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Front Psychol. 2013 Apr 18;4:193. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00193. eCollection 2013.

Dual-processing altruism.

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  • 1Allgemeine Psychologie II, Department of Psychology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Altruism refers to an other-benefiting behavior that is costly but bears no direct profit to oneself. At least three different forms can be distinguished: help giving, altruistic punishment, and moral courage. We investigated the differential impact of two thinking modes, intuitive (System 1) and rational (System 2), on these three altruistic behaviors. Situational (state-related) thinking style was manipulated via experimental instructions and generally preferred thinking style (trait-related) was assessed via questionnaires. We found that of the subjectively preferred thinking styles (trait), faith in intuition (System 1) promoted sharing and altruistic punishment, whereas need for cognition (System 2) promoted volunteering in a situation that required moral courage. By contrast, we did not find a significant effect of situational thinking style (state) on any of the altruistic behaviors, although manipulation checks were positive. Results elucidate the affective-motivational underpinnings of different types of altruistic behaviors.


altruistic punishment; donation; dual-processing; intuition; moral courage; volunteering

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