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Anticipated Guilt for Not Helping and Anticipated Warm Glow for Helping Are Differently Impacted by Personal Responsibility to Help
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Lund University, Sweden.
Lund University, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Decis Research, OR USA.
2016 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 7, no 1475Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One important motivation for people behaving prosocially is that they want to avoid negative and obtain positive emotions. In the prosocial behavior literature however, the motivations to avoid negative emotions (e.g., guilt) and to approach positive emotions (e.g., warm glow) are rarely separated, and sometimes even aggregated into a single mood-management construct. The aim of this study was to investigate whether anticipated guilt if not helping and anticipated warm glow if helping are influenced similarly or differently when varying situational factors related to personal responsibility to help. Helping scenarios were created and pilot tests established that each helping scenario could be formulated both in a high-responsibility version and in a low-responsibility version. In Study 1 participants read high-responsibility and low-responsibility helping scenarios, and rated either their anticipated guilt if not helping or their anticipated warm glow if helping (i.e., separate evaluation). Study 2 was similar but here participants rated both their anticipated guilt if not helping and their anticipated warm glow if helping (i.e., joint evaluation). Anticipated guilt was clearly higher in the high-responsibility versions, but anticipated warm glow was unaffected (in Studies 1a and 1b), or even higher in the low-responsibility versions (Study 2). In Studies 3 (where anticipated guilt and warm glow were evaluated separately) and 4 (where they were evaluated jointly), personal responsibility to help was manipulated within-subjects. Anticipated guilt was again constantly higher in the high-responsibility versions but for many types of responsibility-manipulations, anticipated warm glow was higher in the low-responsibility versions. The results suggest that we anticipate guilt if not fulfilling our responsibility but that we anticipate warm glow primarily when doing over and beyond our responsibility. We argue that future studies investigating motivations for helping should measure both anticipated negative consequences for oneself if not helping, and anticipated positive consequences for oneself if helping.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
FRONTIERS MEDIA SA , 2016. Vol. 7, no 1475
Keyword [en]
anticipated guilt; anticipated warm glow; emotion regulation; motivations of helping; negative state relief model; responsibility to help
National Category
Applied Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-132213DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01475ISI: 000384509800001PubMedID: 27733840OAI: diva2:1040092

Funding Agencies|Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse; Stiftelsen Markussens studiefond; Swedish Research Council; Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Marcus; Marianne Wallenberg Foundation

Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-21 Last updated: 2016-11-15

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Erlandsson, ArvidVästfjäll, Daniel
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