Public and Non-Public Prosocial Behaviors: Differential Associations with Empathy and Aggression
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The associations between prosocial behavior, empathy and aggression have been studied many times. Most of these studies address prosocial behavior as a unitary construct, yet recent studies suggest that the construct is not homogeneous. These studies show that there are different types of prosocial behavior. In the present study a distinction is made between public (i.e. in front of others) and non-public prosocial behaviors. These two types show different associations to other constructs (i.e. empathy and aggression). Therefore, the aim of this study was to find the differential associations between public and non-public prosocial behaviors, empathy and aggression. It was hypothesized that non-public prosocial behaviors were positively associated with empathy, and negatively associated with aggression. This was not expected for public prosocial behavior. One hundred sixty-nine Dutch young adults (M = 22.25, SD = 2.25) completed self-reported measures on these constructs. In a multiple regression analysis, in which was controlled for age and gender, the expected positive association between non-public prosocial behaviors and empathy and the expected positive association between public prosocial behavior and aggression were found. However, non-public prosocial behaviors were not negatively associated with aggression and public prosocial behavior was not negatively associated with empathy. Limitations and implications for future research are provided.