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Abstract and Figures

Quixoteism is a motive that leads people to undertake challenging actions as an instrumental goal toward an ultimate goal of improving the welfare of the world. The present research tests whether the activation of a Quixoteism motive increases a person’s willingness to perform extraordinary helping behaviors. In Study 1 (N = 66), the centrality of values linked to Quixoteism (i.e., the Transcendent-Change Constellation, TCC) predicted actual commitment to help, but only when this behavior was challenging. In Study 2 (N = 175), the centrality of TCC measured one month earlier was associated with a preference for challenging helping behaviors, but only when the ultimate goal of Quixoteism was previously primed (i.e., awareness of worldwide problems). This is the first work to focus on analyzing the association between Quixoteism and behaviors that involve a challenging helping (chivalrous) action.
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The challenge of making this world a better place: analyzing
the chivalrous quality of the quixoteism motive
Sergio Villar
&Luis Oceja
&Sergio Salgado
&Eric Stocks
&Pilar Carrera
Published online: 15 January 2019
#Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
Quixoteism is a motive that leads people to undertake challenging actions as an instrumental goal toward an ultimate goal of
improving the welfare of the world. The present research tests whether the activation of a Quixoteism motive increases a persons
willingness to perform extraordinary helping behaviors. In Study 1 (N= 66), the centrality of values linked to Quixoteism (i.e.,
the Transcendent-Change Constellation, TCC) predicted actual commitment to help, but only when this behavior was challeng-
ing. In Study 2 (N= 175), the centrality of TCC measured one month earlier was associated with a preference for challenging
helping behaviors, but only when the ultimate goal of Quixoteism was previously primed (i.e., awareness of worldwide prob-
lems). This is the first work to focus on analyzing the association between Quixoteism and behaviors that involve a challenging
helping (chivalrous) action.
Keywords Challenge .Motives .Prosocial behavior .Quixoteism .Transcendental change
In the Don Quixote, the protagonist runs into a group of twelve
men with their necks and hands chained. These men are
guarded by four other men; two are riding a horse and the
other two are on their feet. Don Quixote realizes that it is a
good situation Bto set forced actions right and to succor and
aid poor wretches^, so he stands up for the poor wretches,
argues with the guardians and helps the prisoners to escape
(Cervantes 1605/2004, chapter 22). Almost 500 years later, in
the last episode of the The Newsroom series, the main charac-
ter improvises a speech after his best friendsfuneral:BCharlie
Skinner was crazy. He identified with Don Quixote, an old
man with dementia who thought he could save the world from
an epidemic of incivility simply by acting like a knight^
(Sorkin 2012). In line with this sentiment, research in psychol-
ogy suggests that a social motive called Quixoteism exists
(Oceja 2008;OcejaandSalgado2013; Oceja et al. 2018a;
Oceja and Stocks 2017; Oceja et al. 2018b; Salgado and Oceja
2011). Thus far, research on Quixoteism has focused on its ulti-
mate goal to improve the welfare of the world. In the present
research, we focus, instead, on a different component of
Quixoteism: its instrumental goal. We define this instrumental
goal as engaging in challenging behavior in order to obtain the
ultimate goal of improving the welfare of the world.
Conceptualizing Quixoteism in this manner requires a differ-
entiation between instrumental and ultimate goals. This way
of understanding motives comes from Rokeach (1973), who
claimed that some values refer to preferable modes of behav-
ior (e.g., courage, logic, independence), whereas others refer
to desirable end-states of existence (e.g., a world at peace,
mature love, a comfortable life). These two are not mutually
exclusive. Indeed, this difference concerning the goal type
encourages researchers to analyze specific combinations of
preferred ways to obtain a desirable end state (e.g., Sandy
et al. 2016). In the case of Quixoteism, we posit that the mo-
tive compels an individual to engage in challenging behavior
(instrumental goal) toward the end of making the world a
better place (ultimate goal).
*Luis Oceja
Departamento de Psicología Social, Universidad Autónoma de
Madrid, C/ Pavlov 6, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Departamento de Administración y Economía, Universidad de La
Frontera, Temuco, Chile
Department of Psychology and Counseling, University of Tyler at
Texas, Tyler, TX, USA
Current Psychology (2019) 38:931938
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... En esta tesis hemos realizado un acercamiento teórico y empírico a algunos aspectos de la motivación del emprendimiento social. Se ha planteado como una continuación en la línea de investigación del quijotismo (Salgado, 2009;Salgado y Oceja, 2011;Oceja y Salgado, 2013;Oceja y Stocks, 2017;Oceja et al., 2018;Villar, 2019;Oceja et al., 2019;Villar et al., 2019) con una aplicación a un tipo de conducta que no se había planteado antes dentro de esta línea. Para ello hemos utilizado antecedentes ya estudiados previamente del quijotismo (perfil de valores, orientación motivacional, espacio vital) junto con antecedentes del altruismo (toma de perspectiva, preocupación empática) y otros relacionados con el emprendimiento (perfiles de valores, autoeficacia emprendedora, riesgo instrumental-final). ...
... Este objetivo de cambio puede verse como un objetivo instrumental para conseguir el objetivo último. Recientemente, Oceja y sus colaboradores han delimitado más claramente el doble componente de fin último y fin instrumental que contiene en su concepciónVillar et al., 2019) Rokeach, (1973), propuso 18 valores terminales y 18 valores instrumentales. Los valores terminales (como un mundo en paz, amistad verdadera, felicidad) se refieren a los estados finales deseables de la existencia; los objetivos que una persona desearía alcanzar durante su vida y pueden variar entre diferentes grupos de personas en diferentes culturas. ...
... Este perfil sería la disposición a comprometerse con aquellos retos que pueden hacer del mundo un lugar mejor. Según Oceja et al., el TCP tiene un efecto predictor en el comportamiento prosocial orientado a la mejora global mejor que cada uno de los valores constitutivos del mismo.Resultados en la misma línea han sido encontrados porVillar et al. (2019) al analizar que la activación del quijotismo a través de valores puede llevar a las personas a elegir acciones retadoras como medio (objetivo instrumental) para mejorar el bienestar del mundo (objetivo final). ...
Esta tesis doctoral trata sobre los antecedentes motivacionales del emprendimiento social. En concreto, estudiamos la especial relevancia del quijotismo, que se define como el motivo social cuyo fin último es mejorar el mundo a través de acciones retadoras. En un Estudio preliminar confeccionamos un Cuestionario de Impulso al Emprendimiento Social (CIES) con diferentes variables que pueden explicar el inicio de la conducta de emprendimiento social. En el Estudio 1 aplicamos el CIES a una población previamente identificada como: emprendedores sociales, emprendedores comerciales, trabajadores sociales y otras ocupaciones. En el Estudio 2 utilizamos una versión abreviada del CIES con una muestra más amplia con el propósito de validar el instrumento y utilizamos la intención de emprendimiento social como variable dependiente. En el Estudio 3 volvemos a utilizar el CIES, pero utilizando decisiones en una situación simulada como variable dependiente para comprobar las relaciones de las variables con una conducta más cercana a la real. Finalmente, en el Estudio 4, en lugar del CIES, utilizamos una manipulación experimental. Dividimos a los participantes en dos condiciones, una con la saliencia de valores relacionados con quijotismo y otro grupo de control. En este caso, utilizamos como variable dependiente una conducta real de iniciación de emprendimiento social.
... That is, the ultimate goals of egoism, altruism, collectivism, and principlism are to increase one's own welfare, to increase that of another specific individual, to increase that of a group and to uphold principles such as freedom or justice, respectively (Batson, 1994(Batson, , 2011. Likewise, Oceja and collaborators proposed the existence of quixoteism, a motive with the ultimate goal of increasing the welfare of the world (Oceja & Salgado, 2008;Oceja & Salgado, 2013;Oceja & Stocks, 2017;Oceja et al., 2018Oceja et al., , 2019Salgado & Oceja, 2011;Villar et al., 2019, Villar, 2019. The concept world here does not necessarily refer to the planet Earth; rather, it refers to a transcendental and abstract idea that includes the sum of all that exists around us (Kant, 1781(Kant, /1978. ...
... The four studies of this work fulfilled those requirements. In our studies, the sample sizes were consistent with those of previous studies on quixoteism (e.g., Oceja et al., 2018Oceja et al., , 2019Villar et al., 2019) and awe experience (e.g., Bai et al., 2017;Gordon et al., 2017;Stellar et al., 2017aStellar et al., , 2017b. These programs of research consistently obtained significant effects with similar sample sizes to ours, allowing us to expect a medium size effect. ...
... sacrifice" only when the depiction of the means and final objective were aligned with the instrumental (challenging) and ultimate (global) goals of quixoteism Villar et al., 2019). ...
Full-text available
According to the awe-quixoteism hypothesis, one experience of awe may lead to the engagement in challenging actions aimed at increasing the welfare of the world. However, what if the action involves damaging one individual? Across four experiments (N = 876), half participants were induced to feel either awe or a different (pleasant, activating, or neutral-control) emotion, and then decided whether achieving a prosocial goal (local vs. global). In the first three experiments this decision was assessed through a dilemma that involved to sacrifice one individual’s life, additionally in Experiments 2 and 3 we varied the quality of the action (ordinary vs. challenging). In Experiment 4, participants decided whether performing a real helping action. Overall, in line with the awe-quixoteism hypothesis, the results showed that previously inducing awe enhanced the willingness to sacrifice someone (Experiments 1, 2 and 3) or the acceptance to help (Experiment 4) when the decision involved engaging in challenges aimed at improving the welfare of the world.
... Con respecto al tipo de ayuda, hemos desarrollado una tipología basada en el enfoque de Batson y colaboradores (Batson, 1987;Batson, 1994;Batson & Shaw, 1991;Batson, 2014) sobre los principales motivos que pueden provocar una acción prosocial: Egoísmo, Altruismo, Colectivismo y Principalismo, añadiendo un quinto denominado Quijotismo planteado por Oceja y colaboradores (Salgado & Oceja, 2011;Oceja & Sal-gado, 2013;Oceja et al., 2018;Oceja et al., 2019;Villar et al., 2019, Villar et al., 2022. Concretamente, planteamos que estos cinco motivos permiten configurar un continuo cuyos puntos de referencia son: el yo, personas concretas, amplios colectivos, principios generales, y perspectiva global. ...
Full-text available
En la actualidad existe una amplia oferta de iniciativas de ayuda que paradójicamente puede desconcertar a potenciales colaboradores. ValuesApp es una herramienta telemática que conecta a colaboradores y entidades evaluando el perfil motivacional de los primeros y presentando, de forma coherente y ordenada, las iniciativas de ayuda que ofrecen los segundos. En esta investigación hemos analizado la eficacia de ValuesApp en dos contextos: aplicada a través de una plataforma online (Estudio 1) y mediante la solicitud personal en un entorno natural (Estudio 2). En el Estudio 3, hemos evaluado cómo son percibidas un conjunto de iniciativas prosociales. Los resultados apoyan la utilidad de ValuesApp (Estudios 1 y 2) y permiten cerrar el ciclo Investigación-Acción ofreciendo iniciativas prosociales ajustadas a los valores y motivos de los potenciales colaboradores.
Full-text available
Past research suggests that the connection between values and people's behaviour may not be as straightforward and robust as has been claimed. We propose that a more holistic and discriminative view that acknowledges the influence of a specific combination of values on specific kinds of behaviour is needed. In the current project, we test two hypotheses regarding the transcendental‐change profile (TCP). First, that TCP is characterized by a combination of the readiness to engage in those challenges (instrumental) that can make the world a better place (terminal). Second, the centrality of the TCP facilitates performance of those prosocial actions that are perceived as stimulating and global. The results of five studies support the reliability and validity of this conceptualization of TCP (Studies 1 and 2), and show that when the prosocial initiative is perceived as either global (Study 3) or stimulating (Studies 4 and 5), the TCP is the strongest predictor of the willingness and commitment to engage in such prosocial action.
Full-text available
This paper presents a theory of potentially universal aspects in the content of human values. Ten types of values are distinguished by their motivational goals. The theory also postulates a structure of relations among the value types, based on the conflicts and compatibilities experienced when pursuing them. This structure permits one to relate systems of value priorities, as an integrated whole, to other variables. A new values instrument, based on the theory and suitable for cross-cultural research, is described. Evidence relevant for assessing the theory, from 97 samples in 44 countries, is summarized. Relations of this approach to Rokeach's work on values and to other theories and research on value dimensions are discussed. Application of the approach to social issues is exemplified in the domains of politics and intergroup relations.
Full-text available
Values are a central personality construct and the importance of studying them has been well established. To encourage researchers to integrate measures of values into their studies, brief and ultrabrief instruments were developed to recapture the 10 values measured by the 40-item Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ; Schwartz, 2003 Schwartz, S. H. (2003). A proposal for measuring value orientations across nations. In Questionnaire development report of the European Social Survey (pp. 259–319). Retrieved from Rigorous psychometric procedures based on separate derivation (N = 38,049) and evaluation (N = 29,143) samples yielded 10- and 20-item measures of values, which proved to be successful at capturing the patterns and magnitude of correlations associated with the original PVQ. These instruments should be useful to researchers who would like to incorporate a values scale into their study but do not have the space to administer a longer measure.
Full-text available
Research suggests that empathic concern and distress give rise to different patterns of helping behavior.It has been proposed that this difference is caused by the effects of these emotions on recurrent thoughts about the person in need. However, no research has directly investigated this potential explanation. To remedy this, we tested the hypotheses that distress, but not empathic concern, is associated with both anticipated recurring thoughts (Study1) and experienced recurring thoughts (Study 2) about a victim. We also tested the hypothesis that distress is associated with thoughts about the victim, whereas empathic concern is associated with thoughts about the victim’s situation (Study 3), which is potentially a consequence of the motives associated with each emotion.Lastly, we assessed the causal relations between distress, empathic concern, and recurrent thoughts (Study 4).Overall, results demonstrate a distinctive, and important,pattern of associations among empathic concern, distress,and different forms of recurrent thoughts about the emotion-eliciting stimulus.
We conducted five studies to test the transcendental change constellation (TCC)–quixoteism hypothesis: The presence of a specific set of values labeled TCC elicits a motive with the ultimate goal of increasing the welfare of the world (quixoteism). First, the salience of the TCC increased the commitment to (Study 1) and preference for (Study 2) action aimed at improving the welfare of the world. Second, the centrality of the TCC was associated with the affective reaction towards (Study 3) and support for (Study 4) a prosocial initiative when the welfare of the world was previously threatened and the initiative was aimed at improving such welfare. In Study 5, the centrality of the TCC was related to a quixotic style of life.
This chapter presents two lines of research about two motives that may lead people to helping a group other than one’s own. First, our research on the one-among-others effect posits that inducing empathic concern for a victim who is presented along with other individuals in need may enhance the willingness to increase the welfare of others (i.e. generalised altruism). Second, our research on the world-change orientation posits the existence of a social motive, quixoteism, with the ultimate goal of increasing the welfare of the world. The proximal processes that may elicit these motives, and their influence on the decision and maintenance of intergroup helping contexts, are discussed.
This book takes a hard-science look at the possibility that we humans have the capacity to care for others for their sakes (altruism) rather than simply for our own (egoism). The look is based not on armchair speculation, dramatic cases, or after-the-fact interviews, but on an extensive series of theory-testing laboratory experiments conducted over the past 35 years. Part I details the theory of altruistic motivation that has been the focus of this experimental research. The theory centers on the empathy-altruism hypothesis, which claims that other-oriented feelings of sympathy and compassion for a person in need (empathic concern) produce motivation with the ultimate goal of having that need removed. Antecedents and consequences of empathy-induced altruistic motivation are specified, making the theory empirically testable. Part II offers a comprehensive summary of the research designed to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis, giving particular attention to recent challenges. Overall, the research provides remarkably strong and consistent support for this hypothesis, forcing a tentative conclusion that empathy-induced altruism is within the human repertoire. Part III considers the theoretical and practical implications of this conclusion, suggesting that empathy-induced altruism is a far more pervasive and powerful force in human affairs than has been recognized. Failure to appreciate its importance has handicapped attempts to understand why we humans act as we do and wherein our happiness lies. This failure has also handicapped efforts to promote better interpersonal relations and create a more caring, humane society.