Does No Good Deed Go Unpunished? the Victimology of Altruism

Robert J. Homant and Daniel B. Kennedy

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI:
Does No Good Deed Go Unpunished? the Victimology of Altruism

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To explore the relationship between altruism and crime victimization, 100 undergraduates reported their experiences as crime victims and their past altruistic behaviors. Level of altruism was found to be a statistically significant predictor of victimization for both property crime and personal crime. Altruism was then separated into risky and safe altruism subscales. Risky altruism, such as frequently giving rides to strangers, was found to be highly predictive of both property crime (r = +.37) and personal crime (r = +.34), whereas safe altruism had only a nonsignificant relationship with victimization. In a follow-up study with 67 subjects, risky altruism was found to be correlated with Zuckerman’s Impulsive Sensation Seeking. The “Big Five” personality traits of Extraversion and Openness to experience correlated with both risky and safe altruism. Results suggest that at least some altruistic behavior leads to victim facilitation of crime.

Keywords: altruism; crime; impulsive; personality; risk-taking; risky altruism; sensation seeking; strangers; victimization; victims

Chapter.  6543 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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