Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Towards a Characterization of a Motive Whose Ultimate Goal Is to Increase the Welfare of the World: Quixoteism

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Towards a Characterization of a Motive Whose Ultimate Goal Is to Increase the Welfare of the World: Quixoteism

Article excerpt

We use the term Quixoteism to refer to a new social motive. The characterization of this motive deals with two aspects: the definition of the ultimate goal (i.e., to increase the welfare of the world) and the proposal of a process that activates it (i.e., a transcendental-change orientation). Three studies were conducted to test this characterization. In Study 1 we developed an empirical measure of the transcendental-change orientation. The participants in Studies 2 and 3 were presented with a need situation. Results showed that the centrality of such an orientation was directly related to an interpretation consistent with the ultimate goal of Quixoteism (Study 2), and that its salience increases the likelihood of performing a high-cost prosocial behavior (Study 3).

Keywords: social motive, Quixoteism, prosocial behavior.

Se propone la existencia de un motivo social que hemos denominado Quijotismo. La caracterización de este motivo comprende dos aspectos: la definición de un fin último diferenciado (i.e., mejorar el bienestar del mundo) y la propuesta de un proceso que facilita su activación (i.e., orientación al cambio trascendente). Se realizaron tres estudios para contrastar empíricamente dicha caracterización. En el Estudio 1 se desarrolló una medida operativa de la orientación al cambio trascendente. A los participantes de los Estudios 2 y 3 se les presentó una situación de necesidad. Los resultados mostraron que la centralidad de dicha orientación está relacionada con una interpretación consistente con el fin último de mejorar el bienestar del mundo (Estudio 2), y que su saliencia aumenta la probabilidad de realizar una conducta prosocial de alto coste (Estudio 3).

Palabras clave: Quijotismo, motivo social, conducta prosocial.

Human beings are capable of actions with positive consequences for those around them. In Social Psychology these types of actions have been grouped under the generic term "prosocial behavior" (e.g., Batson, 1998; Batson & Powell, 2003), and have been explained from quite diverse perspectives (for a recent review, see Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, & Schroeder, 2005). Focusing on the concept of motivation, Batson and colleagues postulated four types of motive that can lead to a prosocial action: egoism, principlism, altruism and collectivism (Batson, Ahmad, & Lishner, 2009; Batson, Ahmad, Powell, Stocks, & Gardner, 2008; Batson, Ahmad, & Tsang, 2002; Batson, 1994). The difference between these four motives resides in the ultimate goal that characterizes them, understood as the final state or objective that guides behaviour at a given moment (Batson, 1991; Heider, 1958; Lewin, 1951)1. Thus, the ultimate goal of egoism is to increase one's own welfare, that of altruism is to increase the welfare of an individual, that of collectivism is to increase the welfare of a group, and that of principlism is to uphold a moral principle. Since the same motive can give rise to very different behaviors, and a behavior can result from different motives, from a motivational perspective the explanation of a given behavior consists in identifying the ultimate goal that guided it.

Psychosocial characterization of a motive

Given that a motive is a construct that is not directly observable and that can be inaccessible even for the person who experiences it, its study involves identifying and analyzing those processes that bring about its activation (Burnstein, Crandall, & Kitayama, 1994; Preston & de Waal, 2002; Verplanken & Holland, 2002). For example, orientation toward the self leads to egoism, identification with a group leads to collectivism, feelings of empathy lead to altruism, and internalization of a norm or principle leads to principlism (Batson, Ahmad, & Tsang, 2002; Batson, 1994). From this perspective, the study of a particular motive requires the operationalization of this process so that it can be both measured and manipulated. …

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