Empathy, Communication, And Prosocial Behavior

James B. Stiff, James Price Dillard, Lilnabeth Somera, Hyun Kim, Carra Sleight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

133 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted to examine the relationships among different dimensions of empathy, communication, and prosocial behavior. Study one provides a test of three models hypothesized to explain this process. Results of this study indicated support for altruism as a motivator of prosocial behavior and suggest that the egoism and dual-process models are unlikely explanations. Study two was conducted in hopes of identifying additional support for the model that emerged from study one. The second study fully replicated the findings of the first study. Results from both studies suggest that prosocial behavior is motivated primarily by concern for others. Moreover, emotional reactions to the perceived distress of others are preceded by a concern for others. Together, these findings strongly support an altruistic interpretation of prosocial behavior and suggest that the egoistic model be reformulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-213
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1988


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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