personality and prosocial behavior: a multilevel meta-analysis

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Authors Reuben Kline, Alexa Bankert, Lindsey Levitan, Patrick Kraft
Paper Category
Paper Abstract We investigate the effect of personality on prosocial behavior in a Bayesian multilevel meta-analysis (MLMA) of 15 published, interdisciplinary experimental studies. With data from the 15 studies constituting nearly 2500 individual observations, we find that the Big Five traits of Agreeableness and Openness are significantly and positively associated with prosocial behavior, while none of the other three traits are. These results are robust to a number of different model specifications and operationalizations of prosociality, and they greatly clarify the contradictory findings in the literature on the relationship between personality and prosocial behavior. Though previous research has indicated that incentivized experiments result in reduced prosocial behavior, we find no evidence that monetary incentivization of participants affects prosocial tendencies. By leveraging individual observations from multiple studies and explicitly modeling the multilevel structure of the data, MLMA permits the simultaneous estimation of study- and individual-level effects. The Bayesian approach allows us to estimate study-level effects in an unbiased and efficient manner, even with a relatively small number of studies. We conclude by discussing the limitations of our study and the advantages and disadvantages of the MLMA method.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R

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