Who volunteers in psychology experiments? A study of prosocial motivation in volunteering.

PAM Van Lange, Michaéla Schippers, D Balliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The central purpose of the present research is to provide a review of social value orientation (i.e., prosocial, individualistic, and competitive orientation), a construct measured with methods rooted in game theory (i.e., decomposed games). Also, we examine its ability to predict volunteering in psychology experiments. Consistent with hypotheses, Study 1 revealed that prosocials are more likely to volunteer in psychological experiments than do individualists and competitors. Study 2 replicated these findings, and revealed also that social value orientation was strongly linked to the academic study they chose. In particular, among psychology students, prosocials (57%) was the largest group, followed by individualists (37%), and only a few competitors (6%); in contrast, among economics students, individualists appeared largest (47%), followed by prosocials (36%), and still a fairly sizeable percentage of competitors (17%). It is concluded that psychologists and economists tend to rely on samples (from their participant pools) that may systematically differ in terms of motivation and beliefs that are associated with differences in prosociality, selfishness, and competition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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