Compassion SEM 1 Abstract Structural equation modeling was used to assess the plausibility of a conceptual model of compassion. The model specified hypothesized linkages among viewers’ identification with the victims of disasters, perceived suffering, compassion, and helping behavior. Two hundred and three participants viewed a news video of a disaster and completed a survey regarding their reactions to the news segment. Helping behavior was measured as number of hypothetical raffle tickets surrendered in exchange for monetary donation to a disaster-relief charity. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the emotions of sadness, distress, and empathy comprised a threefactor model of compassion. Results further indicated that perceived suffering and identification with the victims are correlated, however, victim identification, mediated by compassion best predicted helping behavior. Among the composite of empathy, distress, and sadness empathy was the best predictor of helping behavior, which supports an altruistic explanation for helping.
Compassion SEM 2 How Mass Media Communication about Natural Disasters Facilitates Helping Behavior: A Structural Equation Modeling Analysis Introduction December 26, 2004. The earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a series of tsunamis that devastate South and Southeast Asia. August 30, 2005. Hurricane Katrina strikes the U.S. Gulf Coast, obliterating hundreds of communities. October 22, 2007. Wildfires erupt in Southern California, forcing evacuations of half a million people and destroying over 1,600 homes. After these and numerous other disasters the mass media were blanketed with coverage from disaster areas. Images of destroyed houses and dead or grieving people filled the nightly news, and the donations poured in. However, the mechanism by which exposure to disaster images translates into financial donation to help the victims remains unclear. This paper develops a structural model of compassion, focusing specifically on how mediated portrayal of human suffering (disasters in the news) evokes compassion that leads to helping behavior (such as donating money). It begins with a theoretical review of the construct of compassion, its components and prerequisites, and past findings on relationships between compassion and helping behavior. A model of compassion is proposed and tested through structural equation modeling. Definition and Psychological Structure of Compassion and the Relationship to Helping Behavior Overview of the Approaches to Studying Prosocial Behavior Why do people help other people? For decades, researchers and philosophers have debated this question. Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, and Schroeder (2005) proposed that the vast literature on prosocial behavior (defined as helping and altruism) is best understood through a multilevel
Compassion SEM 3 perspective involving three levels: micro, macro, and meso. Micro level research explains prosocial behavior through the lens of evolutionary theory, biology, genetics, developmental factors, and personality characteristics. Kin selection theory, which has shown that people are more willing to help relatives than strangers, is an example of a micro level theory (Barrett, Dunbar, & Lycett, 2002). Macro level examines intergroup influences and prosocial behaviors that occur in the context of large groups (e.g., cooperation and volunteering). For example, Omoto and Snyder’s (1995) volunteer process model explains continued volunteerism as being driven by the match between a volunteer’s initial needs and expectations and the subsequent experience at an organization. Meso level research looks at helping on an interpersonal level, such as dyadic interactions. This is the area of the traditional focus of psychological research on helping behavior; majority of studies on prosocial behavior involved request for help directed at a specific person (Penner et al., 2005). For example, experiments by Coke, Batson, and McDavis (1978)...
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