The influence of stable individual differences on behaviour need not solely rely upon deliberative processes but can also be exerted through automatic associative processes. In this contribution, three studies that illustrate the role of individual differences in automaticity are presented in the domain of helping behaviour. The first study provides evidence both for a double dissociation and for an additive pattern of implicit and explicit measures in predicting relevant altruistic behaviours. The subsequent two studies show that when the concept of altruism is subliminally primed, individual differences in implicit attitudes significantly predict behaviour. The results are in line with the gatekeeper model, and their implications are discussed focusing on the key role of individual differences in modulating automaticity effects. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.