The presence of others, prosocial traits, Machiavellianism: A personality × situation approach

T. Bereczkei, Bela Birkas, Zsuzsanna Kerekes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The presence of others has long been known to have an effect on people's decisions to engage in more helping behavior, but relatively few studies have examined the interaction between the observation of the helping act and various personality traits of the altruist person. In the present study, subjects were asked to volunteer by offering a less and a more costly charity service in public and under anonymous conditions. We found that prosocial personality traits showed relative independence of situational factors. Scores on the scale of Machiavellianism, in contrast, proved to be strongly dependent on the presence of others, but not on the cost of the offered charity act. Those obtaining high scores on this scale (high-Mach persons) disguised their selfishness and pretended altruism in the presence of others, but realized their self-interest when others were not observing their behavior. This responsiveness to the strategic distinction between the presence and absence of others is discussed in terms of reputation-gaining and competitive altruism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychology
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Fingerprint

Machiavellianism
Altruism
Charities
altruism
personality traits
Personality
personality
Helping Behavior
human being
reputation
Volunteers
Observation
Costs and Cost Analysis
costs
interaction
Charity
Personality Traits
Person

Keywords

  • Altruism
  • Helping behavior
  • Machiavellian intelligence
  • Observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

The presence of others, prosocial traits, Machiavellianism : A personality × situation approach. / Bereczkei, T.; Birkas, Bela; Kerekes, Zsuzsanna.

In: Social Psychology, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2010, p. 238-245.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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