University of Twente Student Theses


The effect of individual-level vs. group-level perspective taking on prosocial behaviour

Voorthuis, Brenda J. (2017) The effect of individual-level vs. group-level perspective taking on prosocial behaviour.

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Abstract:The relationship between empathy in reading and prosocial behaviour is investigated. It is proposed that individual-level perspective taking evokes the affective mode of thought which results in prosocial behaviour through affective theory of mind and empathy. Group-level perspective taking evokes the deliberative mode of thought, which results in a cognitive theory of mind and a less emotional response of the reader. In this study, participants read a text about one individual victim or a group of victims. Afterwards, perspective taking, empathy, theory of mind, and prosocial behaviour were measured. The manipulation check showed that only in the group-level condition significantly more perspective taking occurred than in the control condition. There was no effect of Perspective on empathy, cognitive theory of mind, affective theory of mind, or prosocial behaviour. A possible explanation for the absence of effects is that the group-level text and individual-level text were too similar in terms of characteristics of the story characters for the reader to relate to. It is also possible that no effect on prosocial behaviour was found because the prosocial behaviour measured was not directed at the story characters towards whom the empathy was evoked. This is a course for future research.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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