Ethics. Research. Community.

The self-protective altruist: terror management and the ambivalent nature of prosocial behavior.

Personality and social psychology bulletin. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Three studies examined the hypothesis that mortality salience (MS) will increase prosocial behaviors when the prosocial cause promotes terror management processes. However, when the prosocial cause interferes with these processes, MS will reduce prosocial behavior. In Study 1, following a MS procedure, participants indicated their willingness to donate money to charity or to donate to an organ donation organization. In Study 2, a research assistant randomly distributed fliers with reminders of death or back pain, and another research assistant solicited participants' assistance from either a charitable fund booth or an organ donation booth. Study 3 examined the impact of MS on helping a wheelchair-bound confederate or a walking confederate. The results indicated that MS increased charitable donations and increased help to a walking confederate. However, MS significantly decreased organ donation card signings and decreased help to a wheelchair-bound confederate. The discussion examines the tension between personal fear and worldview validation.
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