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This is both a review of previous research and a theoretical paper on altruism. It discusses one of the crucial theories of prosocial involvement: the distinction between endo- and exocentric prosocial motivation depending on the type of internal gratification for the involved individual: satisfaction of the Self vs. improving the circumstances of another person. The relevance and validity of this distinction finds support in early empirical studies. Contemporary findings suggest a more universal regulatory context of this idea, which transcends the domain of altruism and extends to the more general issues of the Self and social perception. In addition, it anticipates a number of cognitive biases consequential to the relationship between endocentric regulation and the Self. The findings support a reinterpretation of the original term “prosocial motivation” and the use of a broader interpretative construct “prosocial orientation”, understood as a complex syndrome of regulation that encompasses the processes of social perception, value judgements, and Self-regulation, both explicit and subliminal.
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