Article by Sahar Awan, Marc Esteve & Arjen van Witteloostuijn.

July, 17 2020   |   Editorial office

First published: March 11, 2020 in Public Administration:

Funding information: AGAUR (Agency for Management of University and Research Grants), Grant/Award Number: 2017‐SGR‐1556; Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad, Gobierno de España, Grant/Award Number: CSO2016‐80823‐P



The claim that public service motivation (PSM) is an antecedent of prosocial behavior has often been empirically tested and supported. However, closer inspection of this literature reveals large disparities in relating the two constructs. One reason that could explain such differences is that the relationship between PSM and prosocial behaviors has been primarily tested using self‐reported cross‐sectional, single‐rater and same‐survey data. While all of these are widely used methodological approaches in social sciences, they are also susceptible to potential biases. We conduct two comparative studies to re‐examine this relationship. Study 1 utilizes self‐reported cross‐sectional, single‐rater and same‐survey data linking PSM and prosocial behavior, revealing a positive relationship with PSM’s compassion dimension. Study 2 involves observing actual prosocial behavior in a real‐life setting. Then, the correlation between PSM and prosocial behavior disappears. We conclude by discussing the possible reasons that could lead to the differences found across the two studies.

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