Public charity offer as a proximate factor of evolved reputation-building strategy: an experimental analysis of a real-life situation

Tamas Bereczkei, Bela Birkas, Zsuzsanna Kerekes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although theoretical considerations suggest that a considerable portion of human altruism is driven by concerns about reputation, few experimental studies have examined the psychological correlates of individual decisions in real-life situations. Here we demonstrate that more subjects were willing to give assistance to unfamiliar people in need if they could make their charity offers in the presence of their group mates than in a situation where the offers remained concealed from others. In return, those who were willing to participate in a particular charitable activity received significantly higher scores than others on scales measuring sympathy and trustworthiness. Finally, a multiple regression analysis revealed that while several personality and behavior traits (cooperative ability, Machiavellianism, sensitivity to norms, and sex) play a role in the development of prosocial behavior, the possibility of gaining reputation within the group remains a measurable determinant of charitable behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2007

Keywords

  • Altruism
  • Charity
  • Generosity
  • Reputation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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