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Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Experimental Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Riggs, Anne E.

Second Advisor

Fast, Anne A.

Third Advisor

Scollon, Christie Napa


This study aimed to understand how the relationship between awe and prosociality is impacted by empathic concern and emotion regulation. Witnessing others in need and feeling a sense of connectedness towards them may elicit empathic concern and lead to prosocial behavior. However, emotion regulation impacts the capacity to focus on others. Greater emotion regulation difficulty has been associated with greater self-focus and may interfere with considering the perspective of others. Experiences of awe have been shown to not only decrease self-focus but may also increase connectedness to others, promoting empathic concern, and subsequently prosocial outcomes. We predicted that eliciting awe would increase empathic concern and prosocial behavior. We also predicted that the relationship between awe and prosocial behavior would depend on the level of emotion regulation difficulty, such that participants with greater emotion regulation difficulty would experience a greater magnitude of the effect of awe on prosocial behavior than those with less emotion regulation difficulty. Participants completed a measure of emotion regulation, watched an awe inducing or neutral video, read a story depicting human suffering and rated the degree of empathic concern felt before making a prosocial decision. We aimed to investigate empathic concern as a mediator between awe and prosociality and emotion regulation as a potential moderator. Neither of our hypotheses were supported in the current study. Possible explanations, limitations, and future directions are discussed.




Prosocial behavior, empathic concern, awe, emotion regulation


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Awe; Socialization; Altruism; Helping behavior; Empathy




masters theses




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