The Relationship Between the Private Self and Helping Victims of AIDS1


  • 1

    We thank Lorraine Hemadez at the AIDS Resources for Dona Ana County organization for her help in the data collection process.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Krystina A. Finlay, Department of Psychology, Department 3452, New Mexico State University, P. O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001.


Social psychological theory is not often extended into real-world social contexts. In contrast, the current work applies the concept of increasing the accessibility of the private self (Trafimow, Triandis, & Goto, 1991) to a real-world situation; namely, helping people with AIDS. The current results show that priming the private self increases actual helping behaviors directed toward victims of AIDS as compared to a no-prime condition. Furthermore, path analyses show that empathy mediates the prime-helping relationship. No significant gender differences were observed in self-reports of empathy toward victims of AIDS, but women generally volunteered to help more than men.