The Altruistic Personality: In What Contexts Is It Apparent?

Gustavo Carlo, Nancy Eisenberg, Debra Troyer, Galen Switzer, Anna L. Speer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Hypotheses concerning the specific contexts in which an altruistic personality might be most apparent were investigated. College students completed questionnaires tapping components of an altruistic personality, emotionality, and social desirability. At a 2nd session, the emotional evocativeness and ease of escape from the helping situation were experimentally manipulated. Ss were exposed to a distressed woman, completed state sympathy and personal distress indexes, and were given an opportunity to assist the woman. High scorers on dispositional altruism were expected to assist most when escape was easy, particularly when the distress cues were obvious. Altruistic and emotionally reactive persons were also expected to help most in a psychologically "weak" environment. Both predictions were supported. The relations between helping and the other predictors were also examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-458
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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