Brief Report

Sex Roles

, Volume 56, Issue 7, pp 543-549

Expectation for Mood Enhancement as a Result of Helping: The Effects of Gender and Compassionate Love

  • Susan SprecherAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology and Department of Psychology, Illinois State University Email author 
  • , Beverley FehrAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Winnipeg
  • , Corinne ZimmermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Illinois State University

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Several theoretical perspectives in the social psychology literature on helping suggest that people forecast the benefit that they will receive as a result of helping others, and help only if they determine that it is rewarding to do so. One type of self-benefit that can be received from helping is an enhancement of positive mood. The major hypotheses of the present study were: (1) women, to a greater degree than men, would expect to experience enhanced positive mood as a consequence of both helping and receiving help in a relational context; and (2) those who are high in compassionate love for others would expect to experience enhanced positive mood from giving and receiving help relative to those who are lower on compassionate love. Support was found for both hypotheses. In addition, women were more likely than men to rate certain helping behaviors in a relational context (e.g., providing verbal support) as good examples of “compassionate love acts.” The meaning of the results with respect to altruism and for gender differences in helping behavior is discussed.


Mood enhancement Compassionate love Helping behavior Gender differences Altruism