Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2020, Vol. 52 Issue (3) : 307-316     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00307
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Mediating roles of gratitude, social support and posttraumatic growth in the relation between empathy and prosocial behavior among adolescents after the Ya’an earthquake
Wenchao WANG,Xinchun WU()
Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Download: PDF(646 KB)   HTML Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info
Guide   
Abstract  

Empathy refers to the traits, or tendencies, of a person to affectively experience emotions of concern at the suffering of others and to cognitively adopt another person’s perspective. Possession of empathy has been assumed to encourage prosocial behavior. The mechanisms by which empathy affects prosocial behavior for adolescent survivors of disaster, however, are unclear. Posttraumatic growth (PTG) was considered a common positive change following trauma events and was identified as having a high prevalence rate in various trauma types. After experiencing natural disasters, individuals with high empathy are more vulnerable to their adverse environment and the traumatic situations of others. This results in more psychological pressure and fear, and these pressures and negative emotions force individuals to think about the meaning of trauma, thus promoting the generation of PTG. The emergence of PTG brings positive behavioral change among survivors after the disaster. Therefore, it was suggested that empathy may exert indirect effects on prosocial behavior through PTG.
According to current theories, empathy has different emotional and cognitive components. When individuals empathize with others, these components are activated, which may lead to gratitude and, in turn, result in prosocial behavior. As a moral barometer, gratitude informs the beneficiary that a benefactor has bestowed a gift. The prosocial behavior of a benefactor toward a beneficiary is thought to produce gratitude within the beneficiary. This then stimulates the beneficiary’s prosocial behavior, further strengthening the benefactor’s own prosocial behavior.
Furthermore, traumatized survivors with greater empathy may improve communication with others, increase the sense of intimacy, and perceive more support from others—meaning that empathy may lead individuals to have more social support. Social support refers to an individual’s perception of the support provided by others. That perception can be influenced by gratitude. Adolescents with low social support are more likely to interpret other people’s ambiguous actions as aggressive. Thus, stable social relationships seem to promote PTG and prosocial behavior. Taken together, it is possible that empathy can promote prosocial behavior through gratitude, social support, and PTG in post-disaster contexts. The utility of these predictions, however, was unclear.
To examine the relation between empathy, gratitude, social support, PTG and prosocial behavior, this study used an interpersonal reactivity index scale, gratitude questionnaire, social support questionnaire, posttraumatic growth inventory and prosocial behavior questionnaire to assess 542 adolescents following Ya’an earthquake. The results indicated that after controlling the trauma exposure, empathy have a positive association with prosocial behavior through the following routes: three one-mediator paths of gratitude, social support and PTG, respectively; three two-mediator paths of gratitude via PTG, social support via PTG and gratitude via social support, and one three-mediator path from gratitude to PTG via social support. These findings suggested that following a natural disaster, adolescent survivors’ empathy may have an indirect and positive relation with prosocial behavior by gratitude, social support and PTG.

Keywords empathy      gratitude      social support      PTG      prosocial behavior     
:  R395  
Corresponding Authors: Xinchun WU     E-mail: xcwu@bnu.edu.cn
Issue Date: 18 January 2020
Service
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
RSS
Articles by authors
Cite this article:   
Wenchao WANG,Xinchun WU. Mediating roles of gratitude, social support and posttraumatic growth in the relation between empathy and prosocial behavior among adolescents after the Ya’an earthquake[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2020, 52(3): 307-316.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00307     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2020/V52/I3/307
[1] An Y. Y., Li Q. Y., & Wu X. C . (2015). A qualitative research on posttraumatic growth after natural disasters with adolescent survivors of Wenchuan earthquake. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Social Science Edition),(6), 107-113.
[1] [ 安媛媛, 李秋伊, 伍新春 . (2015). 自然灾害后青少年创伤后成长的质性研究——以汶川地震为例. 北京师范大学学报(社会科学版), (6), 107-113.]
[2] An Y. Y., Zang W. W., Wu X. C., Lin C. D., & Zhou J . (2011). Effects of trauma exposure on posttraumatic growth-The role of resilience as a moderator. Journal of Psychological Science, 34(3), 727-732.
[2] [ 安媛媛, 臧伟伟, 伍新春, 林崇德, 周佶 . (2011). 创伤暴露程度对中学生创伤后成长的影响——复原力的调节作用. 心理科学, 34(3), 727-732.]
[3] Batson C. D . (1987). Prosocial motivation: Is it ever truly altruistic? Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 20, 65-122.
[4] Cano A., & Williams A. C . (2010). Social interaction in pain: Reinforcing pain behaviors or building intimacy? Pain, 149(1), 9-11.
[5] Davis M. H . (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.
[6] de Waal, F. B. M . (2008). Putting the altruism back into altruism: The evolution of empathy. Annual Review of Psychology, 59(1), 279-300.
[7] Ding F. Q., & Lu C. H . (2016). Association between empathy and prosocial behavior: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Psychological Science, 24(8), 1159-1174.
[7] [ 丁凤琴, 陆朝晖 . (2016). 共情与亲社会行为关系的元分析. 心理科学进展, 24(8), 1159-1174.]
[8] Figley C. R . (1995). Compassion fatigue as secondary traumatic stress disorder: An overview. In C. R. Figley (Ed.), Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized(pp. 1-20). New York: Brunner-Rutledge.
[9] Fredrickson B. L . (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218-226.
[10] Fredrickson B. L., & Branigan C . (2005). Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Cognition and Emotion, 19(3), 313-332.
[11] Gest S. D., Graham-Bermann S. A., & Hartup W. W . (2001). Peer experience: Common and unique features of number of friendships, social network centrality, and sociometric status. Social Development, 10(1), 23-40.
[12] Graham S . (1988). Children's developing understanding of the motivational role of affect: An attributional analysis. Cognitive Development, 3(1), 71-88.
[13] Jeličić H., Phelps E., & Lerner R. M . (2010). Why missing data matter in the longitudinal study of adolescent development: Using the 4-h study to understand the uses of different missing data methods. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(7), 816-835.
[14] Jordan K. D., & Foster P. S . (2016). Medical student empathy: Interpersonal distinctions and correlates. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 21(5), 1009-1022.
[15] Kalisch B. J . (1973). What is empathy? The American Journal of Nursing, 73(9), 1548-1552.
[16] Li Y. Y., Li H., Decety J., & Lee K . (2013). Experiencing a natural disaster alters children's altruistic giving. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1686-1695.
[17] Margolin G., Ramos M. C., & Guran E. L . (2010). Earthquakes and children: The role of psychologists with families and communities. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(1), 1-9.
[18] McCullough M. E., Emmons R. A., & Tsang J.-A . (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 112-127.
[19] McCullough M. E., Kimeldorf M. B., & Cohen A. D . (2008). An adaptation for altruism: The social causes, social effects, and social evolution of gratitude. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(4), 281-285.
[20] Nelson C . (2009). Appreciating gratitude: Can gratitude be used as a psychological intervention to improve individual well-being? Counselling Psychology Review, 24(3), 38-50.
[21] Newman D. A . (2003). Longitudinal modeling with randomly and systematically missing data: A simulation of ad hoc, maximum likelihood, and multiple imputation techniques. Organizational Research Methods, 6(3), 328-362.
[22] Nowak M. A., & Roch S . (2007). Upstream reciprocity and the evolution of gratitude. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 274(1610), 605-610.
[23] O’Brien T. B., DeLongis A., Pomaki G., Puterman E., & Zwicker A . (2009). Couples coping with stress: The role of empathic responding. European Psychologist, 14(1), 18-28.
[24] Peterson C., Park N., Pole N., D'Andrea W., & Seligman M. E. P . (2008). Strengths of character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21(2), 214-217.
[25] Rao L.-L., Han R., Ren X.-P., Bai X.-W., Zheng R., Liu H., … Li S . (2011). Disadvantage and prosocial behavior: The effects of the Wenchuan earthquake. Evolution & Human Behavior, 32(1), 63-69.
[26] Roberts W., Strayer J., & Denham S. A . (2014). Empathy, anger, guilt: Emotions and prosocial behaviour. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 46(4), 465-474.
[27] Rosenberg E. L . (1998). Levels of analysis and the organization of affect. Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 247-270.
[28] Schaefer J. A., & Moos R. H . (1992). Life crises and personal growth. In B. N. Carpenter (Ed.), Personal coping: Theory, research, and application (pp. 149-170). Westport, CT Praeger.
[29] Seligman M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi M . (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.
[30] Shirtcliff E. A., Vitacco M. J., Graf A. R., Gostisha A. J., Merz J. L., & Zahn‐Waxler C . (2009). Neurobiology of empathy and callousness: Implications for the development of antisocial behavior. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 27(2), 137-171.
[31] Siu A. M. H., & Shek D. T. L . (2005). Validation of the interpersonal reactivity index in a Chinese context. Research on Social Work Practice, 15(2), 118-126.
[32] Staub E., & Vollhardt J . (2008). Altruism born of suffering: The roots of caring and helping after victimization and other trauma. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78(3), 267-280.
[33] Stephan W. G., & Finlay K . (1999). The role of empathy in improving intergroup relations. Journal of Social issues, 55(4), 729-743.
[34] Sun B.-H., Miao D.-L., Li W.-J., Zhang H.-X., & Xu J.-Y . (2011). Perspective taking and helping behavior in university students: The role of group relation and empathic response. Psychological Development and Education, 27(5), 491-497.
[34] [ 孙炳海, 苗德露, 李伟健, 张海形, 徐静逸 . (2011). 大学生的观点采择与助人行为:群体关系与共情反应的不同作用. 心理发展与教育, 27(5), 491-497.]
[35] Swickert R. J., Hittner J. B., & Foster A . (2012). A proposed mediated path between gender and posttraumatic growth: The roles of empathy and social support in a mixed-age sample. Psychology, 3(12A), 1142-1147.
[36] Tsang J.-A . (2006). The effects of helper intention on gratitude and indebtedness. Motivation and Emotion, 30(3), 198-204.
[37] Twenge J. M., Baumeister R. F., Dewall C. N., Ciarocco N. J., & Bartels J. M . (2007). Social exclusion decreases prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(1), 56-66.
[38] Vollhardt J. R . (2009). Altruism born of suffering and prosocial behavior following adverse life events: A review and conceptualization. Social Justice Research, 22(1), 53-97.
[39] Vollhardt J. R., & Staub E . (2011). Inclusive altruism born of suffering: The relationship between adversity and prosocial attitudes and behavior toward disadvantaged outgroups. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(3), 307-315.
[40] Wang W. C., Wu X. C., & Tian Y. X . (2018). Mediating roles of gratitude and social support in the relation between survivor guilt and posttraumatic stress disorder, posttraumatic growth among adolescents after the Ya’an earthquake. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, e02131.
[41] Wang W. C., Wu X. C., Tian Y. X., & Zhou X . (2018). Mediating roles of meaning in life in the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder, posttraumatic growth and prosocial behavior among adolescents after the Wenchuan earthquake. Psychological Development and Education, 34(1), 112-119.
[41] [ 王文超, 伍新春, 田雨馨, 周宵 . (2018). 青少年创伤后应激障碍和创伤后成长对亲社会行为的影响: 生命意义的中介作用. 心理发展与教育, 34(1), 112-119. ]
[42] Wang W. C., Wu X. C., & Zhou X . (2018). Prevalence and predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth among adolescent survivors after the Wenchuan earthquake. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Social Science Edition),(2), 51-63.
[43] [ 王文超, 伍新春, 周宵 . (2018). 青少年创伤后应激障碍和创伤后成长的状况与影响因素——汶川地震后的10年探索. 北京师范大学学报(社会科学版), (2), 51-63.]
[44] Wrightsman L. S . (1974). Assumptions about human nature: A social-psychological approach. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
[45] Worthen V. E., & Isakson R. L . (2007). The therapeutic value of experiencing and expressing gratitude. Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy, 31(1), 33-46.
[46] Wu X. C., Zhang Y. D., Lin C. D., & Zang W. W . (2013). The effect of disaster exposure on PTSD of primary and secondary students: Mediating and moderating effects. Psychological Development and Education, 29(6), 641-648.
[46] [ 伍新春, 张宇迪, 林崇德, 臧伟伟 . (2013). 中小学生的灾难暴露程度对创伤后应激障碍的影响:中介和调节效应. 心理发展与教育, 29(6), 641-648.]
[47] Xiao F. Q., Zhen Z. W., & Chen Y. H . (2014). Neural basis and effects of empathy on prosocial behaviors, Psychological Development and Education, 30(2), 208-215.
[47] [ 肖凤秋, 郑志伟, 陈英和 . (2014). 共情对亲社会行为的影响及神经基础. 心理发展与教育, 30(2), 208-215.]
[48] Zhang Q. P., & Kou Y . (2011). The dimension of measurement on prosocial behavior: Exploration and confirmation. Sociology Research,(4), 105-121.
[48] [ 张庆鹏, 寇彧 . (2011). 青少年亲社会行为测评维度的建立与验证. 社会学研究, (4), 105-121.]
[49] Zhou X., Wu X. C., An Y. Y., & Chen J. L . (2014). The roles of rumination and social support in the associations between core belief challenge and post-traumatic growth among adolescent survivors after the Wenchuan earthquake. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 46(10), 1509-1520.
[49] [ 周宵, 伍新春, 安媛媛, 陈杰灵 . (2014). 青少年核心信念挑战对创伤后成长的影响: 反刍与社会支持的作用. 心理学报, 46(10), 1509-1520.]
[50] Zhou X., Wu X. C., Wang W. W., & Tian Y. X . (2017). Longitudinal linkages between social support, posttraumatic stress disorder, and posttraumatic growth among primary school students after the Ya’an earthquake. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 49(11), 1428-1438.
[50] [ 周宵, 伍新春, 王文超, 田雨馨 . (2017). 社会支持、创伤后应激障碍与创伤后成长之间的关系: 来自雅安地震后小学生的追踪研究. 心理学报, 49(11), 1428-1438.]
[51] Zhou X., An Y. Y., & Wu X. C . (2017). Longitudinal linkages between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and violent behaviors among Chinese adolescents following the Wenchuan earthquake. Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma, 26(3), 231-243.
[52] Zhou X., Wu X. C., & Zhen R . (2017). Understanding the relationship between social support and posttraumatic stress disorder/posttraumatic growth among adolescents after Ya'an earthquake: The role of emotion regulation. Psychological Trauma, 9(2), 214-221.
[53] Zou H . (1999). Social support networks and peer relationships in middle school students. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Social Science Edition),(1), 34-42.
[53] [ 邹泓 . (1999). 中学生的社会支持系统与同伴关系. 北京师范大学学报(社会科学版), (1), 34-42.]
[1] Xiong LI,Zuoshan LI,Binyang XIANG,Jing MENG. Empathy for pain in Individuals with autistic traits influenced by attention cues: Evidence from an ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(3): 294-306.
[2] WANG Jianfeng, DAI Bing. The pursuit of fame at the expense of profit: The influence of power motive and social presence on prosocial behavior[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(1): 55-65.
[3] REN Xi,WANG Yan,HU Xiang,YANG Juan. Social support buffers acute psychological stress in individuals with high interdependent self-construal[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(4): 497-506.
[4] Dongjie XIE, Hao LU, Yanjie SU. Pay-forward effect of resource allocation in preschoolers: Role of theory of mind and empathy[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(9): 1018-1028.
[5] Qili XIE,Chongjing LI,Xiaoshan QUAN,Guangrong JIANG, . Couples when young and companions when aged: The relationship between marital attachment and loneliness of left behind elderly[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(7): 771-781.
[6] Ruosong YAO,Mengshi GUO,Haosheng YE. The mediating effects of hope and loneliness on the relationship between social support and social well-being in the elderly[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(10): 1151-1158.
[7] WANG Yanhui; LI Dongping; SUN Wenqiang; ZHAO Liyan; LAI Xuefen; ZHOU Yueyue. Parent-child attachment and prosocial behavior among junior high school students: Moderated mediation effect[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 663-679.
[8] CHENG Jiaping; LUO Yuejia; CUI Fang. Empathy for pain influenced by cognitive load: Evidence from an ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 622-630.
[9] ZHOU Xiao, WU Xinchun, WANG Wenchao, TIAN Yuxin.  Longitudinal linkages between social support, posttraumatic stress disorder, and posttraumatic growth among primary school students after the Ya’ an earthquake[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(11): 1428-1438.
[10] ZHOU Xiao; WU Xinchun; ZENG Min; TIAN Yuxin. The relationship between emotion regulation and PTSD/PTG among adolescents after the Ya’an earthquake: The moderating role of social support[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 969-980.
[11] DING Ruyi; ZHOU Hui; ZHANG Bao; CHEN Xiao. Narcissism and adolescents’ prosocial behaviors: The role of public and private situations[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 981-988.
[12] SONG Juan; GUO Fengbo; ZHANG Zhen; YUAN Sheng; JIN Hua; WANG Yiwen. Interpersonal distance influences on pain empathy: Friends priming effect[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(7): 833-844.
[13] HUANG SiLin; HAN MingYue; ZHANG Mei. The impact of interpersonal relationship on social responsibility[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(5): 578-587.
[14] WANG Dong; CHEN Zuosong. Relationship between moral disengagement in sport and prosocial and antisocial behaviors in Chinese athletes[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(3): 305-317.
[15] HE Ning; ZHU Yunli. Self-love and other-love: Research on the relationships among narcissism, empathy and implicit altruism[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(2): 199-210.
Viewed
Full text


Abstract

Cited

  Shared   
  Discussed   
Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech