An examination of prosocial behavior and potential moderating factors in individuals high in borderline personality disorder traits

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shannon J. Adcock (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rosemery Nelson-Gray

Abstract: The sparse literature concerning prosocial behavior in the context of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) traits would benefit from behavioral studies using ecologically valid paradigms (e.g., volunteer time, charitable donations). Accordingly, this study examined differences in prosocial behavior in individuals high in BPD traits using ecologically valid behavioral observations. The study also examined potential moderators of BPD traits, specifically childhood maltreatment and emotion dysregulation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two writing conditions—social rejection or typical day—after completing questionnaires measuring BPD traits, childhood maltreatment, and emotion regulation. The study examined participants’ willingness to complete volunteer hours and donate money to charity. Participants were also asked to write up to 10 letters of encouragement to someone in need. This provided three outcome measures of prosocial behavior: volunteer time, charitable contributions, and letters of encouragement. Consistent with prior literature, results across all but one model revealed that BPD traits alone were not predictive of a difference in prosocial behavior. The effect of the rejection condition was not significant except when volunteer hours pledged was the measure of prosocial behavior. Contrary to expectations, childhood maltreatment was predictive of increased prosocial behavior, measured by encouraging letters. Childhood maltreatment and condition had a significant interaction in that the rejection condition reduced the positive correlation between childhood maltreatment and prosocial behavior, as measured by encouraging letters. Emotion dysregulation was associated with reduced prosocial behavior, measured by encouraging letters. Overall results varied across different measures of prosocial behavior. Keywords: borderline personality disorder, prosocial behavior, altruism, emotion dysregulation, abuse, neglect, invalidation

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Borderline Personality Disorder, Prosocial behavior, Altruism, Emotion dysregulation, Abuse, Neglect, Invalidation, Childhood maltreatment
Borderline personality disorder
Helping behavior
Child abuse

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