ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (5): 773-788.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00773

• Meta-Analysis • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The association between guilt and prosocial behavior: A systematic review and meta-analysis

TANG Ming, LI Weiqiang, LIU Fuhui, YUAN Bo()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China
  • Received:2018-05-18 Online:2019-05-15 Published:2019-03-20
  • Contact: YUAN Bo


A large body of research has examined the relationship between guilt and prosocial behavior - yet the findings are inconclusive. A meta-analysis was conducted to explore the effect of trait and state guilt on prosocial behavior, as well as potential moderators of this effect. A literature search yielded 46 qualified papers with 92 effect sizes and 17248 participants. Results showed that trait guilt was significantly associated with prosocial behavior (r = 0.36, p < 0.001), and this relationship was moderated by the type of prosocial behavior. The induction of state guilt also significantly impacted prosocial behavior, with a small effect size (d = 0.24, p < 0.001) - and this relationship was moderated by whether the recipient of the prosocial behavior was also the victim of the guilt-evoking act. No other moderators were found. The p-curve analysis showed that the p-curves of the two meta-analyzes were right skewed, indicating that the relationship between the guilt proneness and prosocial behavior and the effect of state guilt on the prosocial behavior had a real effect, not caused by publication bias or p hacking.

Key words: guilt, prosocial behavior, meta-analysis, moderate effect, p-curve

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