University of Twente Student Theses


The effect of physical proximity on empathy and prosocial behavior through reading

Verhoeven, J.M.C. (2017) The effect of physical proximity on empathy and prosocial behavior through reading.

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Abstract:Prosocial behavior plays a large role in everyday society; the purpose of this research was to identify the relationship between perspective taking and prosocial behavior. Participants received an instruction to imagine themselves, imagine as the main character or a control-instruction (counting words) before receiving a text they had to read. After reading the text, about a boy thinking about his last lesson French during World War I, empathy, personal distress and transportation were measured with scales. After that they had to do a ‘game,’ which had prosocial, individualistic and competitive options and they were asked if and how much hours they were willing to spend on volunteer work. The expectation was that imagining yourself as the main character would stimulate feelings of empathy which lead to prosocial behavior. This would be strengthened by physical proximity when asking for a prosocial act. However, this was not the case, although participants imagining as themselves and imagining as the main character score higher on transportation, which lead to more hours of volunteer work participant were willing to spend. The main conclusion is that perspective taking through reading can make you lose yourself into a story which leads to a greater willingness of prosocial behavior.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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