ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (6): 1061-1069.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01061

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Paying it Forward: The Effect of Selfishness Transmission

YU Junxuan; KOU Yu   

  1. (Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology; Institute of Developmental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beiing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2014-07-17 Online:2015-06-25 Published:2015-06-25
  • Contact: KOU Yu, E-mail:


Once people became victims of others’ selfishness, they would be more likely to treat another innocent person selfishly. That is considered as paying the selfishness forward, namely the effect of selfishness transmission. Descriptive norm and psychological entitlement can account for the mechanism of selfishness transmission. Meanwhile, some personal and situational factors, such as justice sensitivity, moral identity, moral salience, as well as anonymity, may moderate this process. Previous studies have focused on how the victims would punish and retaliate against the selfish person who hurt them, but little is known about how victims would treat the third innocent person. Future researches should discuss the effect of cognitive factors (e.g. general trust, moral judgment), as well as the influence of emotions and empathy in selfishness transmission.

Key words: selfishness transmission, fairness, victims, generalized reciprocity