Prosocial behavior mitigates the negative effects of stress in everyday life

Elizabeth B. Raposa, Holly B. Laws, Emily B. Ansell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Recent theories of stress reactivity posit that, when stressed, individuals tend to seek out opportunities to affiliate with and nurture others to prevent or mitigate the negative effects of stress. However, few studies have tested empirically the role of prosocial behavior in reducing negative emotional responses to stress. The current analyses used daily diary data to investigate whether engaging in prosocial behavior buffered the negative effects of naturally occurring stressors on emotional well-being. Results showed that on a given day, prosocial behavior moderated the effects of stress on positive affect, negative affect, and overall mental health. Findings suggest that affiliative behavior may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial behavior might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-698
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


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