Go to main content
You are currently viewing the new site, if you wish to visit the classic site click here
BPS News

Staged bike crash tests whether empathic people are more altruistic

04 November 2016

A news study provides some of the first evidence that empathy is correlated with altruism in everyday life.

You’re walking to work and spot a cyclist on the ground, next to his upturned bike, wincing in pain. Do you go and help?

Of the many factors influencing your decision, psychological theory suggests that among the most important is your levels of empathy. If you feel the cyclist’s pain and misfortune, you’re more likely to be motivated to help.

This might sound obvious, but there has been surprisingly little research to test whether measuring someone’s empathy levels in a questionnaire actually predicts the likelihood that they will show real-life altruism. That’s what the authors of a new study in which they staged a bicycle accident along a university footpath, have done. 

The results provide some of the first evidence that empathy is correlated with altruism “in the wild”. 

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

Topics

Top of page