Empathy and the Collective Good: Caring for One of the Others in a Social Dilemma


Journal Article

We predicted that feeling empathy for another member of the collective in a social dilemma would create an altruistic desire to allocate resources to that person as an individual, reducing collective good. To test this prediction, 2 studies were run. In each, participants faced a dilemma in which they could choose to benefit themselves, the group, or other group members as individuals. In Study 1, empathy for another group member was manipulated; in Study 2, naturally occurring empathic response was determined by self-report. In both studies, participants who experienced high empathy allocated more resources to the target of empathy, reducing the overall collective good. These results suggest the importance of considering self-interest, collective interest, and other-interest (altruism) as three distinct motives, each of which may operate in social dilemmas. © 1995 American Psychological Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Batson, CD; Batson, JG; Todd, RM; Brummett, BH; Shaw, LL; Aldeguer, CMR

Published Date

  • January 1, 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 68 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 619 - 631

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0022-3514.68.4.619

Citation Source

  • Scopus