Empathic Joy and the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis

Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045-2160.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 10/1991; 61(3):413-26. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.61.3.413
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Three experiments tested whether empathy evokes egoistic motivation to share vicariously in the victim's joy at improvement (the empathic-joy hypothesis) instead of altruistic motivation to increase the victim's welfare (the empathy-altruism hypothesis). In Experiment 1, Ss induced to feel either low or high empathy for a young woman in need were given a chance to help her. Some believed that if they helped they would receive feedback about her improvement; others did not. In Experiments 2 and 3, Ss induced to feel either low or high empathy were given a choice of getting update information about a needy person's condition. Before choosing, they were told the likelihood of the person's condition having improved--and of their experiencing empathic joy--was 20%, was 50%, or was 80%. Results of none of the experiments patterned as predicted by the empathic-joy hypothesis; instead, results of each were consistent with the empathy-altruism hypothesis.

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    • "With respect to charitable giving, compelling yet competing psychological theories suggest that different affective states might promote resource sharing (Batson et al., 1991; Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Buckley, & Birch, 1981; Cialdini et al., 1987; Dickert, Sagara, & Slovic, 2011; Fehr & Camerer, 2007; Zaki & Mitchell, 2011, 2013). For instance, whereas some findings suggest that negative affect (e.g., guilt, empathy) can increase charitable giving (Fisher & Ma, 2014; Hein, Silani, Preuschoff, Batson, & Singer, 2010; Small & Verrochi, 2009), others implicate positive affect (e.g., warmth, excitement; Andreoni, 1995). "
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    ABSTRACT: Humans sometimes share with others whom they may never meet or know, in violation of the dictates of pure self-interest. Research has not established which neuropsychological mechanisms support lending decisions, nor whether their influence extends to markets involving significant financial incentives. In two studies, we found that neural affective mechanisms influence the success of requests for microloans. In a large Internet database of microloan requests (N = 13,500), we found that positive affective features of photographs promoted the success of those requests. We then established that neural activity (i.e., in the nucleus accumbens) and self-reported positive arousal in a neuroimaging sample (N = 28) predicted the success of loan requests on the Internet, above and beyond the effects of the neuroimaging sample's own choices (i.e., to lend or not). These findings suggest that elicitation of positive arousal can promote the success of loan requests, both in the laboratory and on the Internet. They also highlight affective neuroscience's potential to probe neuropsychological mechanisms that drive microlending, enhance the effectiveness of loan requests, and forecast market-level behavior. © The Author(s) 2015.
    Psychological Science 07/2015; DOI:10.1177/0956797615588467 · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    • "cial moments , arising from a contin - uous coordinated interaction between people , are defined here as moments of togetherness . They relate to a common human phenomenon , appearing in a variety of social contexts , includ - ing collective rituals ( Durkheim , 1965 ; Freeman , 1998 ; Bulbulia et al . , 2013 ) , empathic communication ( e . g . , Batson et al . , 1991 ) and mother - infant relationship ( e . g . , Trevarthen , 1979 ; Feldman , 2006 ) . Joint improvisation can be viewed as a special case of joint action , the dynamic coordination between individuals aimed at bringing a change in the environment ( Sebanz et al . , 2006 ) . A completion of any joint action , whether dancing or moving a "
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    ABSTRACT: Performers improvising together describe special moments of ‘being in the zone’ - periods of high performance, synchrony and enhanced sense of togetherness. Existing evidence suggests ¬a possible route for attaining togetherness - interpersonal synchrony, the fine-grained sensory-motor coordination that promotes social connectedness. Here we investigated the physiological characteristics of togetherness using a practice from theater and dance, the mirror game. Pairs of expert improvisers jointly improvised synchronized linear motion, while their motion tracks and cardiovascular activity were continuously monitored. Players also provided dynamic ratings of togetherness while watching video recordings of their games. We identified periods of togetherness using kinematic and subjective markers and assessed their physiological characteristics. The kinematic and the subjective measures of togetherness showed some agreement, with more extensive game-periods being marked by the subjective than the kinematic one. Game rounds with high rates of togetherness were characterized by increased players’ cardiovascular activity, increased correlation of players’ heart rates, and increased motion intensity. By comparing motion segments with similar motion intensity, we showed that moments of togetherness in the mirror game were marked by increased players’ heart rates, regardless of motion intensity. This pattern was robust for the subjectively defined periods of togetherness, while showing a marginal effect for the kinematically defined togetherness. Building upon similar findings in flow research we suggest that the observed increase of players’ heart rates during togetherness periods in the mirror game might indicate the enhanced engagement and enjoyment reported by performers going into ‘the zone’. The suggested approach, combining temporal measurements of kinematic, physiological and subjective responses, demonstrates how the dynamics of spontaneously emerging dyadic states
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 05/2015; 9(187). DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00187 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "Why didn't Henry help? This scenario illustrates several factors known to decrease helping, including low empathy (Batson et al., 1991) and being avoidantly attached (Gillath et al., 2005; Mikulincer, Shaver, Gillath, & Nitzberg, 2005). What remains unknown are the boundary conditions of the relationship between avoidant attachment and unhelpfulness. "
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    ABSTRACT: Avoidantly, compared to securely, attached people help less often and perceive the costs of helping as more severe. Helping relates to empathy and closeness, which may cause avoidantly attached people discomfort. We tested the hypothesis that reducing the potential for emotional closeness for avoidantly attached people would offset their unhelpfulness with one correlational and one experimental study. In Study 1, amongst a sample of 234 people on Mechanical Turk, avoidant attachment related to donating less money to human- and animal-related charities, but not a charity that did not foster emotional closeness. This relationship was mediated by empathy. In Study 2, amongst a sample of 193 college students, avoidantly attached people who believed that their emotions were temporarily unchangeable helped as much as people low in avoidant attachment. Reducing the potential emotional cost of helping increases helping amongst people who are avoidantly attached.
    Personality and Individual Differences 04/2015; 76. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.018 · 1.86 Impact Factor
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