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Research Article

Time for you and for me: compassionate goals predict greater psychological well-being via the perception of time as nonzero-sum resources

Received 30 Oct 2022, Accepted 19 Feb 2023, Published online: 13 Mar 2023


An experience sampling survey showed that when people seek to support others’ well-being in a given interaction, they experience greater life satisfaction, fulfillment of psychological needs, and lower time pressure through the perception that time spent on others is also time spent on themselves (i.e., nonzero-sum perception of time). In contrast, interpersonal goals to appear competent showed weaker positive indirect effects on psychological well-being, while goals to appear likable showed no significant indirect effects, and goals to avoid an undesirable self-image showed negative indirect effects. Spending time on others feels fulfilling rather than depleting when people have compassionate goals.


This research was supported by KAKENHI grant 16KK0064.

Disclosure statement

We have no known conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

Supplemental data for this article can be accessed online at https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2023.2188154

Data availability statement

The data described in this article are openly available in the Open Science Framework at https://osf.io/ays3q/.

Open scholarship

This article has earned the Center for Open Science badges for Open Data, Open Materials and Preregistered. The data and materials are openly accessible at https://osf.io/ays3q/.

Correction Statement

This article has been corrected with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article.


1. The experience sampling survey also measured how much participants perceived that the other person was taking away their time (losing time) or that they were taking away the other person’s time (taking time) for exploratory purposes. The survey also asked how much the interaction was good for themselves and for the other person to measure a nonzero-sum mindset. The results of these analyses are available in Supplementary Materials C-1, C-2, and C-3.

2. Because the three self-image goals were highly correlated at both the within-person (.57 < rs < .69) and between-people levels (.87 < rs < .92), we also ran regressions where each self-image goals were entered separately and confirmed that the weaker associations between self-image goals and psychological well-being measures were not a statistical artifact. Competent and avoidant self-image goals no longer showed significant indirect effects on life satisfaction, need satisfaction, and time pressure at the within-person level.

Additional information


The work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science [16KK0064]

Notes on contributors

Yu Niiya

Yu Niiya is a Professor in the Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies at Hosei University, Japan. Her research interests include motivation and fear underlying prosocial behaviors.

Masaki Suyama

Masaki Suyama is a lecturer at the Department of Social Psychology at Yasuda Women’s University, Japan. His research focuses on the cultural evolution of technology and coordination games.

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