Study Finds That Impulsive People More Likely To Sacrifice For Others
June 29, 2013

Study Finds That Impulsive People More Likely To Sacrifice For Others

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

While the general perception of people who are impulsive in nature is that they are self-centered, new research appearing in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the reality is actually quite different.

In fact, the study authors report that when impetuous individuals are faced with a decision that involves either giving up their own time and energy to help a loved one or worrying more about themselves, they are more likely to sacrifice for others, according to The Telegraph.

"For decades psychologists have assumed that the first impulse is selfish and that it takes self-control to behave in a pro-social manner," explained lead researcher Dr. Francesca Righetti of Amsterdam's VU University. "We did not believe that this was true in every context, and especially not in close relationships."

To test their theory, Dr. Righetti and her colleagues conducted a study in which they told couples that they would have to approach twelve strangers and ask them embarrassing questions. They did not have to follow through with the task, but were not informed of that in advance.

According to Amanda Williams of the Daily Mail, individuals with higher levels of self-control tended to divide the task evenly, assigning six strangers to themselves and six to their partner. On the other hand, those more impulsive in nature were more likely to assume a greater share of the burden in order to spare their partners the embarrassment.

A second study discovered that married people with low self-control were also more likely to sacrifice for their significant others, but were also less forgiving of their wrongdoings, Williams said. The authors believe that the reason for this phenomenon might be that self-control is necessary in order to look at the relationship as a whole and to mentally move beyond those transgressions.

She also added that while sacrificing for a loved one could help build a relationship on a day-to-day basis, ultimately it could have repercussions because individuals might have difficulty keeping a balance between their personal concerns and those centered on the relationship.

"Whether it's about which activities to engage in during free time, whose friends to go out with, or which city to live in, relationship partners often face a divergence of interests -- what is most preferred by one partner is not preferred by the other," Dr. Righetti told the Telegraph.