Title

The Relation Between Trauma Exposure and Prosocial Behavior

Publication Title

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy

Publication Date

5-2013

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1037/a0027255

Keywords

altruism, prosocial behavior, trauma, volunteering, empathy, agreeableness, religiosity, extraversion, gender, exposure

Disciplines

Psychology

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the relation between trauma exposure and prosocial behavior. Undergraduate students (N = 1,528) completed online measures of prosocial behavior (both daily helping behavior and volunteering), lifetime trauma exposure, and 5 other known correlates (i.e., empathy, agreeableness, religiosity, extraversion, and gender) of prosocial behavior at Time 1. At Time 2, 2 months later, participants (n = 1,281) completed measures of trauma exposure between Time 1 and Time 2 (to identify individuals who experienced a trauma between Time 1 and Time 2; n = 122), prosocial behavior, event-related distress, and well-being. Individuals who had experienced more lifetime traumas engaged in more prosocial behavior, and lifetime trauma exposure explained additional variance in prosocial behavior after accounting for other known correlates. In addition, individuals who had experienced a recent trauma reported engaging in more daily helping behavior than a matched no-trauma comparison group (n = 122). Among recent trauma survivors, engaging in prosocial behavior was associated with greater well-being. Implications for research and practice are addressed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)


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