The Fairness Principle, Reward, and Altruistic Behavior


Costanza Scaffidi Abbate, Department of Psychology, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, Edificio 15, I-90128 Palermo, Italy. E-mail:


The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between reward and altruism. It was hypothesized that the altruistic behavior of someone who has been asked for help will occur only after the person asking for help has been evaluated. As a result, if the situation of a person asking for help is perceived as less fortunate, help will be given even if no proportional award is received in return, according to a principle based on need that makes people feel they should help the needy. Results show that when the participants received an unfair award, they tended to offer much bigger donations only in the condition in which the other was perceived as less fortunate.