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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Why are smarter individuals more prosocial? A study on the mediating roles of empathy and moral identity

Qingke Guoa, Peng Suna, Minghang Caia, Xiling Zhang, & Kexin Song
Volume 75, July–August 2019, Pages 1-8


The purpose of this study is to examine whether there is an association between intelligence and prosocial behavior (PSB), and whether this association is mediated by empathy and moral identity. Chinese version of the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, the Self-Report Altruism Scale Distinguished by the Recipient, Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and the Internalization subscale of the Self-Importance of Moral Identity Scale were administered to 518 (N female = 254, M age = 19.79) undergraduate students. The results showed that fluid intelligence was significantly correlated with self-reported PSB; moral identity, perspective taking, and empathic concern could account for the positive association between intelligence and PSB; the mediation effects of moral identity and empathy were consistent across gender.

The article is here.

Here is part of the Discussion:

This is consistent with previous findings that highly intelligent individuals are more likely to engage in prosocial and civic activities (Aranda & Siyaranamual, 2014; Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011; Wiepking & Maas, 2009). One explanation of the intelligence-prosocial association is that highly intelligent individuals are better able to perceive and understand the desires and feelings of the person in need, and are quicker in making proper decisions and figuring out which behaviors should be enacted (Eisenberg et al., 2015; Gottfredson, 1997). Another explanation is that highly intelligent individuals are smart enough to realize that PSB is rewarding in the long run. PSB is rewarding because the helper is more likely to be selected as a coalition partner or a mate (Millet & Dewitte, 2007; Zahavi, 1977).