Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 224–234 | Cite as

Perspective taking instructions and self-other overlap: Different motives for helping

  • Michael W. MyersEmail author
  • Sean M. Laurent
  • Sara D. Hodges
Original Paper


In two studies (N’s = 57 and 115), we demonstrate that type of perspective-taking instruction (“imagine self” vs. “imagine other”) differentially affects two motives for helping: self-other overlap and empathic concern. Imagine-self instructions produce greater self-other overlap than imagine-target and objective instructions, while both types of perspective-taking instruction promote empathic concern relative to an objective condition. In Study 2, imagine-self instructions indirectly increased the likelihood of helping via empathic concern and self-other overlap, while imagine-target instructions led indirectly to greater helping only through empathic concern. We discuss how different perspective-taking instructions may implicate different emotional and motivational paths to increasing helping.


Perspective taking Instructions Self-other overlap Empathy Helping 



The authors would like to thank Colton Christian and Irina Kuzmina for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael W. Myers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sean M. Laurent
    • 2
  • Sara D. Hodges
    • 3
  1. 1.Showa UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.University of WyomingLaramieUSA
  3. 3.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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