Can Empathy Promote Cooperation When Status and Money Matter?

Magda Osman, Jie Yu LV, Michael J. Proulx

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In the present study we ask, Does empathy also support cooperative behaviors when the status (high, low) of an individual differs relative to other group members and is determined by either chance or effort? In response to this unexplored question, the present study involved a series of 4 experiments using a linear public goods game (Experiment 1–3, 4-player; Experiment 4, 2-player). Regardless of the way in which status was achieved (chance, effort), those with low status cooperated more compared with their high-status counterparts. Empathy in and of itself revealed very small overall increases in cooperative behavior. Overall, status and monetary incentives appear to be more salient than empathy in guiding behaviors in a social dilemma task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-218
Number of pages18
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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