ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2024, Vol. 56 ›› Issue (9): 1176-1189.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2024.01176

• 亲社会行为专刊(1) • 上一篇    下一篇


赵娜, 段羽佳, 张恒星   

  1. 中央财经大学社会与心理学院, 北京 100081
  • 收稿日期:2023-09-30 发布日期:2024-06-25 出版日期:2024-09-25
  • 通讯作者: 赵娜, E-mail:
  • 基金资助:
    北京市自然科学基金(9222029); 北京市社会科学基金(23SRB004); 中央财经大学第七批青年科研创新团队支持计划项目; 科教融合研究生学术新星孵化计划项目

Generosity in poverty: The impact of material scarcity from a self-construction perspective

ZHAO Na, DUAN Yujia, ZHANG Hengxing   

  1. School of Sociology and Psychology, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2023-09-30 Online:2024-06-25 Published:2024-09-25

摘要: 由资源稀缺导致的稀缺心态对人们的认知、情感及行为具有重要影响。在稀缺与慷慨行为之间的关系上, 当前研究还未有定论, 对二者矛盾关系背后的作用机制仍缺乏清晰的认知。本研究从自我建构视角下的面子切入, 采用3项研究(5个子研究)探讨了面子意识在稀缺与慷慨行为之间的作用机制。研究结果发现:(1)面子意识在稀缺与慷慨行为的关系中起调节作用:对于面子意识高的个体来说, 资源稀缺情境下他们的慷慨行为增加, 与资源丰富的个体无显著差异; 而对于面子意识低的个体, 其慷慨行为则显著低于资源丰富的个体。(2)资源稀缺个体做出慷慨行为的动机是为护面子, 而非挣面子。本研究在理论上揭示了二者关系的深层心理机制, 有利于厘清稀缺与慷慨行为的矛盾关系。

关键词: 稀缺, 面子意识, 挣面子, 护面子, 慷慨行为

Abstract: The current research on the relationship between scarcity and generosity continues presenting contradictions. The theory of resource depletion suggests that scarcity of material resources limits the possibility of individuals engaging in generous behavior. An alternative hypothesis from the social context theory posits that individuals facing resource scarcity possess a more context-dependent cognitive style and are more reliant on others, thus being more attentive to others' well-being and displaying greater generosity. To address this conflicting relationship, some studies have explored relevant discussions on the measurement standards of scarcity. However, a clear understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of scarcity on generous behaviors is still lacking. To better address the aforementioned issues, this study intends to approach this from the perspective of self-construction and investigate the role of face consciousness between the two. We argue that face consciousness plays a moderating role in the relationship between scarcity and generous behaviors. Specifically, individuals with low face consciousness experienced a significant negative effect of scarcity on generous behavior. Conversely, for individuals with high face consciousness, the impact of scarcity on generous behavior was not significant. Furthermore, material scarcity prompts generous behavior through a lack of face motivation.
Three studies (comprising five sub-studies) were conducted to validate the hypotheses mentioned above. Study 1 (Study 1a and Study 1b) explored the influence of material scarcity on generous relational behavior. By manipulating individuals' perception of scarcity, Study 1a utilized common life scenarios like “sharing a bill” and Study 1b focused on the scenario of choosing a restaurant for a meal, investigating the relationship between face consciousness, scarcity, and generous behavior. Building on Study 1, Study 2 (Study 2a, Study 2b) incorporated scenarios involving rule-compliance or charitable generous behavior, measured individuals' scarcity mindsets, and manipulated the perceived importance of face to further investigate the relationships among these factors. Study 3 employed a questionnaire-based measure to investigate the roles of gaining face and giving face in the tendency toward scarcity and generous behavior.
The research findings of Study1 (Study1a and Study1b) revealed that to those who experience material scarcity, individuals with a high face consciousness showed no significant differences in the amount spent on “sharing a bill” and the choice of restaurant for a meal compared to individuals in the affluent group. The results of Study 2a showed that, regarding the proportion allocated to others, scarcity and importance of face showed a significant interaction. Simple effect analysis results demonstrated that, for individuals for whom face was not important, the proportion allocated to others in the scarcity group was significantly lower than that in the affluent group. However, for individuals for whom the face was important, the proportion allocated to others in the scarcity group showed no significant difference compared to that in the affluent group. Similar research results were obtained in the charitable donation scenario in Study 2b. The results of Study 3 (n = 299) indicated that individuals facing material resource scarcity did not engage in generous behaviors to gain face for themselves. However, they exhibited generosity in upholding their own face.
The results demonstrate a significant main effect of scarcity on generous behavior, indicating that scarcity has a significant negative predictive effect on generous behavior. However, based on one's perception of the situation, the relationship between scarcity and generous behavior also changes with an individual's self-construction. Based on previous research, this study proposes, from a psychological perspective, that being generous despite limited resources is more of a way for individuals to maintain their levels of self-esteem and social identity through generous actions, a manifestation of an individual's defense mechanism. By studying the scarcity mindset of relatively impoverished individuals and conducting research related to prosocial behavior, it is possible to promote social harmony and scientifically manage relative poverty.

Key words: scarcity, face consciousness, gaining face, saving face, generous behavior