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Is giving receiving? The influence of autonomy on the association between prosocial behavior and well-being (Pages 120-125)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 24, April 2022, Pages 120-125


Marcia T. Rinner, Elisa Haller, Andrea H. Meyer, Andrew T. Gloster



Prosocial behavior represents an evolutionary advantage for individuals. In line with this claim, several studies showed a positive relation between prosocial behavior and well-being. However, negative relations were also reported in the literature.


This study aimed to assess the relation between prosocial behavior and well-being using an event sampling methodology. Further, we were interested in two contextual factors (closeness of the receiver and autonomy) that are believed to impact this relationship. Ninety couples (180 individuals) answered questions about their helping behavior and well-being during one week.


Overall, prosocial behavior was not associated with well-being and this association was also not observed when the recipient was a close rather than a distant individual. However, prosocial behavior was positively related to well-being when individuals experienced a sense of autonomy when deciding to act prosocially.


Interventions aiming to promote prosocial behavior should ensure that behaviors are autonomously implemented.

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