Survey Studies

Study unit
Male and female student aged 14-16
Space-time context
Italy 2017
Survey method
Questionnaire administered in 106 upper secondary schools (2023 students)
Characteristics of the instrument
Sprecher and Fehr – Compassionate Love Scale (12 out of 21 items of the scale used), 2 original indicators derived from the concept of agapic acting (6-12)

Tab. Prosocial behaviors, altruism and agapic acting (scale 1-7) n= 2023

 

Total F-M
N= 2023

Female 
n= 1074

Male 
n= 948

F-M

1. I always try to help others when they are experiencing difficult moments

5,60

5,92

5,25

0,67

2. I try to understand rather than judge people

5,25

5,45

5,02

0,43

3. If I encounter a stranger who needs help, I would do almost anything I could to help him or her

5,08

5,30

4,82

0,48

4. When I see people I do not know feeling sad, I feel a need to reach out to them

4,92

5,19

4,60

0,59

5. I can not be happy if those around me are not happy too

4,89

5,10

4,66

0,44

6. If they ask me to give up some of my time to help someone, I spontaneously commit myself for a longer period of time

4,64

4,95

4,30

0,65

7. I always share my possessions with others

4,30

4,38

4,21

0,17

8. It is easy for me to feel the pain and joy experienced by others

4,15

4,53

3,72

0,81

9. It is easy for me to feel the pain and joy experienced by others

4,05

4,31

3,75

0,56

10. would be willing to put up with everything for the good of another person

3,99

4,14

3,83

0,31

11. I spend a lot of time concerned about the well-being of humankind

3,81

4,11

3,47

0,64

12. I normally give money to others without knowing what use will be made of it

2,31

2,39

2,23

0,16

Short results

Constant difference exists between the orientation of males and females. With respect to all of the items females obtain a higher value. The score average is also quite high: nine indicators obtain values ​​above 4 on a scale of 1 to 7.
These results exceed those that had been hypothesized and highlight that prosocial and altruistic attitudes, in general, are considered important among adolescents.
Four responses result in a greater difference between males and females (1-6-8-11) and in particular an item relating to agapic action, i.e., the item concerning one’s availability of time with an attitude of exceedance. These items represent orientations of greater commitment, from both the point of view of altruism and also from the point of view of agapic action and empathy as a capacity to identify oneself with the needs of others. The female orientation thus differs from the male orientation as regards both the type of attitude and the intensity of adherence. Finally, it may be noted that the two indicators of agapic action stimulate very different impressions, as foreseen in the initial hypotheses. In this perspective, an attitude of exceedance over an indefinite period of time attracts favorable response than the idea of ​​donating money without knowing how it will be really used.

 
Study unit
Italian individuals (males and females) aged 18 and over (f: 52.2)
Space-time context
Survey carried out between 27 June and 3 July 2020, representative sample of the Italian population no: 1003 cases
Survey method
300 cases with the Cati method, 703 cases with the Cawi method

On a scale of 1 to 7 how much you agree with the following statements (1 not at all, 7 very much agree)

1.       If it happens to me, I also help a stranger in difficulty

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

2.       If I am doing something that can help a person, I try to give my best regardless of the energy spent

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

3.       I often do a kindness to people I don’t know

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

4.       I try to understand rather than judge a person, even when they’re wrong

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

5.       I’m always the first to lend a hand when someone is in need

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

 

On a scale of 1 to 7 how much you agree with the following statements (1 not at all, 7 very much agree)

1.       If they ask me to offer some time to help someone, I spontaneously commit myself for a longer time

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

2.       I always try to help others when they go through difficult times

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

3.       I happen to donate money to other people, even without knowing what use will be made of it

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

4.      I would be willing to put up with everything for the sake of another

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

5.       I spend a lot of time worrying about the well-being of others

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree

Short results

The study made it possible to construct an altruism index measured considering the lockdown period experienced in Italy, which was then compared with some variables.
It is noted that women have a higher tension to altruism and with increasing age the index considered also increases.
Also from a geographical point of view there are significant differences, in the areas of southern Italy there is a higher index of altruism. Finally, religiosity also affects altruism: Christians and believers in other confessions have a higher index of altruism.