Perspective taking instructions and self-other overlap: Different motives for helping

Michael W. Myers, Sean M. Laurent, Sara D. Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


In two studies (N's = 57 and 115), we demonstrate that type of perspective-taking instruction ("imagine self" vs. "imagine other") differentially affects two motives for helping: self-other overlap and empathic concern. Imagine-self instructions produce greater self-other overlap than imagine-target and objective instructions, while both types of perspective-taking instruction promote empathic concern relative to an objective condition. In Study 2, imagine-self instructions indirectly increased the likelihood of helping via empathic concern and self-other overlap, while imagine-target instructions led indirectly to greater helping only through empathic concern. We discuss how different perspective-taking instructions may implicate different emotional and motivational paths to increasing helping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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