Gifts of giving: The role of empathy and perceived benefits to others and self in young adults’ decisions to become organ donors

Trait empathy and self-interest exert a strong influence on different prosocial behaviors, but their role in the promotion of organ donation registration is unclear. A survey examined how perceived benefits of organ donation for others and the self affect people’s willingness to register as donors.


Perceived other-benefits did not predict registration. Those with lower risk and greater self-benefit perceptions were more willing to donate.


Empathic concern predicted donation willingness and moderated the effect of other-benefit perceptions, such that other-benefit perceptions predicted donation willingness among those with greater empathic concern.


Applications of these findings to organ donation promotion are discussed.