Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Mark Robbins

Abstract

Recent research in the field of positive psychology has concentrated efforts towards understanding positive prosocial emotional experiences in relation to prosocial behavior. Elevation is one of these emotions that has been described as a powerful and positive mood state that can be experienced by witnessing social moral acts and has recently been linked to increases in prosocial behavior. This study investigated the emotion elevation in relation to decision-making for the prosocial health behavior of becoming an organ and tissue donor. The study was experimental and compared decision making for becoming an organ and tissue donor across experimental and control groups. Participants were randomized to one of the three conditions (elevation, mirth, and neutral state) to see if elevation versus control conditions influenced attitudes and behaviors in regards to organ and tissue donation decision-making, and stress management before and after watching a brief video clip. The methodology was also novel in that an online video induction of elevation has not been previously investigated. It was hypothesized that elevation would lead to increased readiness to become an organ and tissue donor, as well as endorsement of greater Pros, Self-Efficacy, engagement, and stress management. Results indicated that participants in the elevation condition reported significantly higher ratings of state elevation compared to positive and neutral control groups supporting that elevation can be induced with an online video protocol. Post-test results indicated that state elevation was not predictive of group differences on decisional balance, self-efficacy, stage, engagement, actual registration for organ and tissue donation, and stress management. As predicted, women reported significantly greater trait elevation than men and trait elevation was significantly related to stage for organ and tissue donation. Questions remain as to the utility of moral elevation state to impact prosocial behaviors. Limitations are discussed and suggestions for future research include utilizing online video induction of moral elevation to better understand the behavioral antecedents of this emotion in naturalistic settings.

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