The Impact of Human Bias on Perceiving Altruistic Acts in Others
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of personality, religiosity, and social status on the extent to which individuals perceived particular acts as being altruistic, which can be defined as being selfless. Personality characteristics included the Big 5 personality traits. I used standardized scales to measure religiosity and social economic status. I hypothesized that those who possess negative personality traits, such as neuroticism, would perceive good deeds as less altruistic than those with a more positive personality traits, such as conscientiousness. Participants were given situations in which individuals who varied with regard to wealth, power, in-group membership, fame, risk, and investment did a good deed. Participants rated how altruistic each deed was on a five-point Likert scale. The results found positive correlations between perceived altruism and agreeableness on three of the four situations, positive correlations between perceived altruism and conscientiousness on four of the six situations, negative correlations between neuroticism and perceived altruism on five of the nine situations, and negative correlations between perceived altruism and extraversion on four of the six situations. Both openness and religiosity showed positive correlations with perceived altruism on all situations. There was no correlation between social economic status and perceived altruism.
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