I can see myself helping: The effect of self‐awareness on prosocial behaviour

Jerome Anthony Lewis, Zachary M. Himmelberger, J. Dean Elmore
Published Online:
15 Dec 2020

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Many studies indicate that increasing self‐awareness leads to individuals reflecting on their values and ideals (Silvia & Duval, 2001). This self‐reflection appears to increase prosocial behaviour (Berkowitz, 1987). However, previously studies typically manipulated self‐awareness in situations in which the individual may have felt pressure from the researcher to help. Thus, experimenter pressure to behave prosocially confounds the self‐awareness explanation provided in past research. We used a novel experimental paradigm to manipulate self‐awareness and remove the researcher's presence to decrease the likelihood that the participant would conform to experimenter demand. Participants were 36 college students (Mage = 19.52; 25 women). The results indicated a strong probability that the experimental condition participants were more prosocial than control condition participants. These findings provide additional support for the hypothesis that self‐reflection increases prosocial behaviour, even without experimenter demands. These findings and the importance of studying objective self‐awareness in light of the coronavirus are discussed.

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