Self-affirmation can counteract the cognitive challenge presented by disturbing information.How Charities Can Avoid Turning Off Potential Donors
Paper Helping Others by First Affirming the Self: When Self-Affirmation Reduces Ego-Defensive Downplaying of Others’ Misfortunes
We show that self-affirmation increases helping behavior toward others in need. We argue that as awareness of others’ pain causes discomfort, individuals are often motivated to ignore information about such pain. However, ignoring others’ suffering implies that one is not a good and caring person, which presents a threat to self-integrity. To resolve this conflict, people might downplay others’ pain. Studies show that self-affirmation intervenes in this process, thereby increasing willingness to help (Studies 1-4). Findings further show that self-affirmation leads people to attend more closely to information about others’ difficulties (Study 2) and to construe others’ pain as a pressing need instead of an ordinary hardship (Study 3). Study 4 provides evidence supporting the ego-defensive account and rules out an alternative account based on other-directed emotions. Studies 1 to 4 also reveal that the effect of self-affirmation is more pronounced among people who are less likely to identify with victims.
Published in: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
- Authored by
- Social Preferences