Not Only the Miserable Receive Help: Empathy Promotes Prosocial Behaviour Toward the Happy

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearch


Two studies investigated how person- and situation-related information
elicit empathy and subsequent prosocial behaviour. Results show that congruent information (for example, positive emotion after positive event) elicits more empathy than incongruent information (for example, negative emotion after positive event). The extent of prosocial behaviour was observed to be an additive effect of person- and situation-related information, with congruent negative information eliciting most prosocial behaviour (study 1). In addition to an observed direct effect of perceived negative affect, empathy partially mediated prosocial behaviour in response to perceived positive affect. Corroborating these results, study 2 indicates a full mediation effect of empathic responsiveness to happiness on prosocial responding. This suggests that two different mechanisms may trigger prosocial behaviour: a direct influence of perceived negative affect, and an empathy mediated influence of perceived positive affect.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)393-413
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 12.2012