This study investigated the relations between altruism, empathy, and spirituality in a sample of 186 university students. Zero-order and partial correlations controlling for age, sex, and social desirability indicated that, although altruism and empathy are related to each other in a manner consistent with previous research, the association of both of these to spirituality is complex and multidirectional.
In particular, empathy was found to be significantly positively related to nonreligious spiritual cognitions, religiousness, and spiritual experiences and negatively associated with existential well-being. Altruism, on the other hand, was most strongly linked to spiritual experiences, followed by spiritual cognitions. Regression analyses revealed that nonreligious spiritual cognitions and spiritual experiences are the most potent predictors of both empathy and altruism, respectively.