Help-giving and moral courage on the Internet


The study addressed individual differences on two types of prosocial behavior on the Internet: help-giving/sharing and moral courage. A questionnaire to measure these behaviors was developed. We investigated the effects of the Big Five personality traits, sadistic traits, and values on help-giving and moral courage. We found that the willingness to help on the Internet was promoted by open personality, and the relationship was partly moderated by high weekly use of social media. The willingness to act morally courageous was promoted by open personality, inclination toward sadism, and self-transcendence values. Surprisingly, the relationship between moral courage and sadistic traits was not moderated by the time spent online. Willingness to donate to a charity was fostered by benevolence and universalism values. Future studies will need to replicate the results with behavioral observations.

Moral courage; helping; Internet; personality; values; sadism
Author biographies

Suna P. Kinnunen

Suna Kinnunen is a PhD (psychology) from University of Frankfurt, Germany, and a MSc (computer science) from University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research interests include prosocial behavior, information security, social engineering, memory, and child development.

Marjaana Lindeman

Marjaana Lindeman (PhD) is the principal researcher of Research on Everyday Thinking group, Division of Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research interests include the belief in supernatural and underlying cognition, and intuitive and analytical thinking.

Markku Verkasalo

Markku Verkasalo (PhD) is the head of the Self Presentation and Values research group at the University of Helsinki.

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