Attribution of Egoistic Versus Altruistic Motives to Acts of Helping: The Role of the Helper's Status and the Act's Intended Publicity

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This research investigated the effects of helpers' status and the intended publicity of the helping act on observers' attributions of altruistic versus egoistic motives to helpers. Results from two studies (overall N = 670), in which we varied helpers' status (low vs. high) and intended publicity of the helping act (private vs. public) suggest that observers attribute more egoistic (and less altruistic) motives to the helping act when helpers intended to make their helping public (vs. keeping it private) and were of high (vs. low) status. Moreover, status and publicity had a negative indirect effect on observers' willingness to assist helpers via increased attribution of predominantly egoistic motives. Implications of these findings for theory and real-world helping will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.2019
Externally publishedYes