Why do we help? World change orientation as an antecedent of prosocial action

Authors


Correspondence to: Luis Oceja, Department of Social Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C/ Pavlov 6, Madrid 28049, Spain.

E-mail: luis.oceja@uam.es

Abstract

World change orientation refers to the extent to which one individual attributes his or her prosocial action to the function of making the world a better place. In Study 1, we developed a scale to measure this world change orientation [world change scale (WCS)] and to analyze its theoretical structure as a distinctive motivational orientation. In Study 2, participants were presented with a situation of need and subsequently given an unexpected opportunity to get involved in prosocial behavior. We then tested the hypothesis that degree of involvement is predicted by WCS when the situation is framed in terms of improving the welfare of the world, but by empathic concern when the situation is framed in terms of improving the welfare of a concrete victim. The results of both studies suggest that WCS refers to a distinct motivational orientation, which affects prosocial behavior above and beyond other motives. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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