25th APS Annual Convention: Mark Your Calendar (Washington, DC, USA - May 23-26, 2013)


Emotional Altruism: The Giving-Feeling Link

Sunday, May 26, 2013, 9:00 AM - 10:20 AM
Virginia Suite B

Chair: Stephanie D. Preston
University of Michigan

Research across methodologies and research perspectives are presented to support the key role for affective states in decisions to give to others—from a few cents to one’s very internal organs. Data reflect an integrative perspective that employs methods from experimental psychology, economics, neuroscience, population psychology, and qualitative research.

Subject Area: Personality/Emotion

The physiology of altruism
Tony W. Buchanan
Saint Louis University
Our research uses a theoretical framework from the animal neuroscience of offspring care to suggest and support a role for motor-autonomic processes in human altruism. Data include the promotion of altruistic giving from physiological stress and motor activation as well as interactions with gender for the inclination to donate to heroic versus nurturant charities.

Co-Author: Stephanie D. Preston, University of Michigan

Co-Author: Christina N. White, Saint Louis University

Co-Author: Robert B. Stansfield, University of Michigan

Co-Author: Brian D. Vickers, University of Michigan

Co-Author: Rachael D. Seidler, University of Michigan

Responses to others’ fear as predictors of empathic behaviors
Abigail A. Marsh
Georgetown University
Both our empirical laboratory studies and research on “extreme altruists” demonstrate that altruism reflects observers’ sensitivity to others’ expressions of fear. In contrast, psychopathic traits are linked to weakened responses to others fear. The mechanisms by which fear expressions engender altruistic behavior in perceivers are discussed.

Co-Author: Kristin Brethel, Georgetown University

Co-Author: Elise M. Cardinale, Georgetown University

Prosocial spending and well-being: Cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal
Michael I. Norton
Harvard University
The rewards of helping may be universal, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts. Prosocial spending was associated with happiness across 136 countries, recalling prosocial spending causally improved happiness in Canada, Uganda, and India, and in Canada and South Africa spending for charity improved affect over spending for the self.

Co-Author: Lara B. Aknin, Simon Fraser University

Co-Author: Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, University of British Columbia

Co-Author: Elizabeth W. Dunn, University of British Columbia

Co-Author: John F. Helliwell, University of British Columbia

Co-Author: Justine Burns, University of Cape Town

Emotional signals in altruism
Deborah A. Small
University of Pennsylvania
Theories that reject the existence of altruism argue that emotional rewards from giving reflect selfish motives. In contrast, across five studies people view emotions as authentic signals of concern and a lack of emotion as a suspicious motive. Authentic motives appear more important than selflessness in judgments of altruism.

Co-Author: Alixandra Barasch, University of Pennsylvania

Co-Author: Emma Levin, University of Pennsylvania

Co-Author: Jonathan Berman, University of Pennsylvania

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