Excessive Altruism and Its Underlying Motivation: Effects on Likability in Japan and the US

Keywords: altruistic behavior, motivation, cultural difference


The present study examined whether there is a difference in the liking for the actor depending on whether the motivation for excessive altruistic behavior is selfish or altruistic. Two experiments were conducted via a Web-based survey. Participants in the experiments responded with their liking toward an altruistic actor, assuming a situation in which the actor responded about his/her motivations. The results showed no effect of individual differences in caution (Study 1), but did show differences between Japan and the US (Study 2). In Japan, actions with altruistic motivations may be evaluated more favorably because selfish motivations were judged to be normatively unfavorable, whereas in the US, where people are tolerant of deviation from the norm, excessively altruistic behavior with selfish motivation may be evaluated as favorably as that with altruistic motivation.

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