Three studies examined the effects of motivation attributed to helpers on recipient reactions. Participants read and responded to scenarios depicting various helping events, in which indicators of helpers having autonomous or controlled (introjected) motivations were embedded. Results showed that recipients experienced more gratitude toward autonomous helpers than those helping for controlled motivations. Helping interactions involving more autonomous attributions were also predictive of positive attitudes toward helpers, positive affect, and felt closeness. Gratitude mediated the effects of autonomous versus controlled helping on recipient positive attitude, well-being, and closeness to helpers. Study 3 confirmed that helper autonomous motivation independently predicted gratitude and other positive reactions to receiving help even when controlling for other important attributions, namely, perceived helper empathy, cost to helper, valuing of help, and perceived similarity.
- Prosocial behavior
- Self-determination theory