What is it about?
Empathic concern is a strong motivator of prosocial behavior, including towards people we are not particularly close with, such as strangers and acquaintances. Yet, some studies find that people are more likely to feel empathy and experience a higher motivation to help others with whom people tend to have closer relationships, such as family and friends. Resolving these seemingly contradictory findings, we show that empathic concern motivates people to help when they perceive low, but not high, interdependence in their relationships.
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Why is it important?
Previous frameworks have emphasized the role of empathic concern in shaping the flow of prosocial behavior towards kin, close, and similar (i.e., positively interdependent) others. However, our results provide an alternative explanation: a relationship-building perspective on empathic concern. From this perspective, empathy-motivated helping might allow people to build positive relationships with prospective cooperating partners.
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This page is a summary of: Empathic concern motivates willingness to help in the absence of interdependence., Emotion, September 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
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