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Does threat trigger prosociality? The relation between basic individual values, threat appraisals, and prosocial helping intentions during the COVID-19 pandemic

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posted on 2024-04-08, 08:05 authored by E Politi, J Van Assche, A Lüders, S Sankaran, Joel AndersonJoel Anderson, EGT Green
Prosociality is often considered as quintessential in coping with the threats of health emergencies. As previous research has suggested, prosocial behaviors are shaped by both dispositional factors and situational cues about the helping situation. In the present research, we investigated whether “bonding” types of prosociality, helping directed towards close others within one’s social network, and “bridging” types of prosociality, helping directed towards vulnerable people across group boundaries, are predicted by basic individual values and threat appraisals concerning COVID-19. During the pandemic, we conducted a cross-sectional study in the US and India (Ntotal = 954), using the Schwartz value inventory and a multifaceted measure of threat assessment to predict prosocial helping intentions. After controlling for other value and threat facets, self-transcendence values and threat for vulnerable groups uniquely predicted both bonding and bridging types of prosociality. Furthermore, threat for vulnerable groups partially mediated the effect of self-transcendence on prosocial helping intentions: People who endorsed self-transcendent values were particularly concerned by the effect of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, and thus willing to engage in prosocial behaviours to help those in need. Our findings support the idea that prosociality is stimulated by empathic concerns towards others in need and underline the importance for future research to consider the broad spectrum of threats appraised by people during health emergencies.


Publication Date



Current Psychology






13p. (p. 6405-6417)


Springer Nature



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