Emotional and Contextual Influences in an Altruistic Decision-Making Task Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Irvin, Robert Brandon
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Evidence suggests that the monetary offers in the Dictator Decision task are not based solely on rational decision-making nor simply cognitive judgments about what is in the participants' immediate self-interest. Priming studies have shown that participants also use information that is not consciously available to help them make these decisions. It is likely that the participants were engaging in emotionally-based reasoning when they were primed with these non-conscious stimuli. It seems that emotional reasoning becomes integrated with the cognitive information available about the Dictator Decision task to influence participants' decisions; these decisions do not appear rational. This study tested this assumption directly by inducing emotions, specifically gratitude and indebtedness, and manipulating the relationship context of a hypothetical recipient in an altruistic decision making task. It was hypothesized that the gratitude induction would produce an increase in monetary offers in the Dictator Decision task compared to the control and indebtedness conditions, but only when the participants were in the appropriate relationship context for giving i.e. when they expected the person was open to a new relationship. A secondary analysis using a manipulation of social distance was also conducted. The pilot study indicated that participants were sensitive to the manipulations. However, in the full study, no significant differences were found in the amount offered in the Dictator Decision task for the emotion manipulation, and no interaction was found between emotion induction and the manipulated relationship context. However, the participants offered more in a hypothetical vignette in which a fellow student was open to new relationships but not for a young professional. Interpretations and directions of future research are discussed.
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  • In Copyright
  • Lowman, Joseph
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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