Prosocial behavior and public service motivation

M. Esteve, D. Urbig, Arjen van Witteloostuijn, George Boyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Although research on public service motivation (PSM) is vast, there is little evidence regarding the effects of PSM on observable behavior. This article contributes to our understanding of the behavioral implications of PSM by investigating whether PSM is associated with prosocial behavior. Moreover, we address if and how the behavior of other group members influences this relationship. The study uses the (pseudo-)experimental setting of the public goods game (the experimental part), run with a sample of 263 students, in
combination with survey-based PSM measures (the non-experimental element). We find a positive link between PSM and prosocial behavior. Moreover, we reveal that this relationship is moderated by the behavior of other group members: High PSM people act even more prosocially when the other members of the group show prosocial behavior as well, but they do not do so if the behavior of other group members is not prosocial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages35
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


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