ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (12): 2077-2083.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.02077

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Effects of secure attachment on empathy and altruistic behavior

PAN Yangu1(), XIAO Yao1, HU Yu1, LIU Guangzeng2, LI Zhiyang3   

  1. 1 Research Institute of Social Development, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu 611130, China
    2 Research Center of Mental Health Education, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    3 Wuhou Senior High School of Chengdu, Chengdu 610043, China
  • Received:2019-03-15 Online:2019-12-15 Published:2019-10-21
  • Contact: PAN Yangu


Altruistic behavior refers to a form of prosocial behavior, of which one’s ultimate goal is to increase other’s welfare. It is not only an important research topic in the field of social psychology but also a necessary element for promoting social harmony and stability. Meanwhile, empathy is the intrinsic motivation for altruistic behavior. Empathy occurs when an observer perceives or imagines someone else’s affect, which triggers the observer to partially feel their emotions. Previous studies indicated that secure attachment style and security priming positively impact individual’s empathy skills and altruistic behavior. According to the attachment theory, emotion regulation and cognitive schema might be the underlying mechanisms to explain how secure attachment influences individual’s empathy and altruistic behavior. Future research is suggested to examine such pathways by further exploring moderators of the relationship between the proximity of givers and receivers in altruistic behavior and the similarity of their attachment styles. Future research is also suggested to investigate the effect of altruistic behavior on secure attachment. It will help to inform intervention development that targets at improving empathy skills and altruistic behavior through secure attachment.

Key words: attachment style, security priming, empathy, altruistic behavior, emotion regulation, cognitive schema

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