Relation of Sympathy and Personal Distress to Prosocial Behavior: A Multimethod Study

Nancy Eisenberg, Richard Fabes, Paul Miller, Jim Fultz, Rita Shell, Robin M. Mathy, Ray R. Reno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

365 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Assessed sympathy and personal distress with facial and physiological indexes (heart rate) as well as self-report indexes and examined the relations of these various indexes to prosocial behavior for children and adults in an easy escape condition. Heart rate deceleration during exposure to the needy others was associated with increased willingness to help. In addition, adults' reports of sympathy, as well as facial sadness and concerned attention, were positively related to their intention to assist. For children, there was some indication that report of positive affect and facial distress were negatively related to prosocial intentions and behavior, whereas facial concern was positively related to the indexes of prosocial behavior. These findings are interpreted as providing additional, convergent support for the notion that sympathy and personal distress are differentially related to prosocial behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume57
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1989

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sympathy
Heart Rate
Deceleration
Child Behavior
Self Report
indication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Relation of Sympathy and Personal Distress to Prosocial Behavior : A Multimethod Study. / Eisenberg, Nancy; Fabes, Richard; Miller, Paul; Fultz, Jim; Shell, Rita; Mathy, Robin M.; Reno, Ray R.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 57, No. 1, 07.1989, p. 55-66.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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