Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of Our Nature

Pages: 468
Item #: 4318062
ISBN: 978-1-4338-0546-2
List Price: $39.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $29.95
Copyright: 2010
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
FREE Shipping

For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


In recent years, psychological scientists' narrow focus on negative emotions and antisocial behavior has been broadened to include a panoply of positive emotions such as empathy, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness and a new emphasis on prosocial, generous, altruistic behavior. At the same time, neuroscientists, primatologists, and evolutionary biologists have begun to identify the evolutionary and neurological roots of prosocial feelings and actions.

Research shows that human beings have an innate capacity for prosocial behavior, but the inclinations underlying such behavior can be blocked, inhibited, or overpowered by selfish, neurotic, or culturally engrained attitudes and values. Genes, personality, past social experiences, social and cultural identities, and contextual factors can all influence the degree to which human behavior is empathic, generous, and kind—or cruel, vindictive, and destructive.

Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of Our Nature, with a subtitle borrowed from an inaugural address by Abraham Lincoln, is a comprehensive examination, from a variety of perspectives, of the interplay of these influences.

The book is divided into five sections:

  • Part I considers theoretical perspectives on prosocial behavior;

  • Part II illuminates the psychological processes that underlie prosocial behavior;

  • Part III focuses on specific prosocial emotions such as compassionate love, gratitude, and forgiveness;

  • Part IV examines prosocial behavior between individuals at the dyadic level; and

  • Part V investigates prosocial behavior at the societal level, with an emphasis on solving intractable conflicts and achieving desirable social change.

This simulating, wide-ranging volume is sure to be of great interest to psychologists, social scientists, and anyone with an interest in understanding and fostering prosocial behavior.

Table of Contents




I. Theoretical Perspectives

  1. Empathy-Induced Altruistic Motivation
    —C. Daniel Batson
  2. Evolutionary Perspectives on Prosocial Behavior
    —Jeffry A. Simpson and Lane Beckes
  3. Enduring Goodness: A Person-by-Situation Perspective on Prosocial Behavior
    —Louis A. Penner and Heather Orom
  4. A Behavioral-Systems Perspective on Prosocial Behavior
    —Phillip R. Shaver, Mario Mikulincer, and Moran Shemesh-Iron
  5. Forms of Concern: A Psychoanalytic Perspective
    —Rami Tolmacz
  6. Neuroscience Meets Social Psychology: An Integrative Approach to Human Empathy and Prosocial Behavior
    —Grit Hein and Tania Singer

II. Psychological Processes

  1. Empathy-Related Responding: Links With Self-Regulation, Moral Judgment, and Moral Behavior
    —Nancy Eisenberg
  2. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Prosocial Behavior
    —Ariel Knafo and Salomon Israel
  3. The Effortful and Energy-Demanding Nature of Prosocial Behavior
    —Matthew T. Gailliot
  4. Helping Relations as Status Relations
    —Arie Nadler, Samer Halabi, Gal Harapz-Gorodeisky, and Yael Ben-David
  5. Compassionate Callousness: A Terror Management Perspective on Prosocial Behavior
    —Gilad Hirschberger
  6. Basic Values: How They Motivate and Inhibit Prosocial Behavior
    —Shalom H. Schwartz

III. Prosocial Emotions

  1. Compassionate Love as a Prosocial Emotion
    —Beverley Fehr
  2. Does Gratitude Promote Prosocial Behavior? The Moderating Role of Attachment Security
    —Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver
  3. The Malleability of Forgiveness
    —Johan C. Karremans and Paul A. M. Van Lange
  4. The Subjective Experience of Generosity
    —Eliane Sommerfeld

IV. Prosocial Behavior at the Relational Level

  1. Prosocial Motivation and Behavior in Close Relationships
    —Caryl E. Rusbult and Christopher R. Agnew
  2. Forgiveness: Integral to a Science of Close Relationships?
    —Frank D. Fincham
  3. Responding to Need in Intimate Relationships: Social Support and Caregiving Processes in Couples
    —Nancy L. Collins, Máire B. Ford, AnaMarie C. Guichard, Heidi S. Kane, and Brooke C. Feeney

V. Prosocial Behavior at the Group and Societal Levels

  1. Empathy and Intergroup Relations
    —John F. Dovidio, James D. Johnson, Samuel L. Gaertner, Adam R. Pearson, Tamar Saguy, and Leslie Ashburn-Nardo
  2. A Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation: Perpetrators Need Acceptance and Victims Need Empowerment to Reconcile
    —Nurit Shnabel and Arie Nadler
  3. Overcoming Psychological Barriers to Peacemaking: The Influence of Beliefs About Losses
    —Daniel Bar-Tal and Eran Halperin


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Mario Mikulincer, PhD, is professor of psychology and dean of the New School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel. He has published three books—Human Helplessness: A Coping Perspective; Dynamics of Romantic Love: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex; and Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change—and over 280 scholarly journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Mikulincer's main research interests are attachment theory, terror management theory, personality processes in interpersonal relationships, coping with stress and trauma, grief-related processes, and prosocial motives and behavior.

He is a member of the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®, Psychological Inquiry, and Personality and Social Psychology review, and has served as associate editor of two journals, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personal Relationships. Recently, he was elected to serve as chief editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

He is a fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Association for Psychological Sciences. He received the EMET Prize in Social Science for his contributions to psychology and the Berscheid–Hatfield Award for Distinguished Mid-Career Achievement from the International Association for Relationship Research.

Phillip R. Shaver, PhD a social and personality psychologist, is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. Before moving there, he served on the faculties of Columbia University, New York University, University of Denver, and State University of New York at Buffalo.

He has coauthored and coedited numerous books, including In Search of Intimacy; Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes; Measures of Political Attitudes; Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications, and Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, and has published over 200 scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Shaver's research focuses on attachment, human motivation and emotion, close relationships, personality development, and the effects of meditation on behavior and the brain.

He is a member of the editorial boards of Attachment and Human Development, Personal Relationships, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Emotion®, and has served on grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

He has been executive officer of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and is a fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. Shaver received a Distinguished Career Award from the International Association for Relationship Research and has served as president of that organization.

Reviews & Awards
Read a review of this title from the PsycCRITIQUES database (PDF: 27 KB)

Purchase access to PsycCRITIQUES, APA's searchable database of book reviews in psychology, delivering approximately 20 current reviews each week.