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Exploring the prosocial effects of moral elevation in middle childhood and early adolescence

Ali, Shazza (2021) Exploring the prosocial effects of moral elevation in middle childhood and early adolescence. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.91152) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:91152)

Language: English

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A growing body of research has explored the impact of moral elevation - the emotional response to witnessing acts of moral virtue, or moral beauty, such as giving and kindness - on prosocial behaviour in adulthood, however much less is known about the experience and effects of moral elevation in a younger age group. This thesis examines the effect of moral elevation on prosociality in childhood and adolescence. Chapter 1 is a theoretical chapter that reviews the relevant literature on prosocial behaviour, the appraisal tendency framework (e.g., Lerner & Keltner, 2000) and moral emotions, specifically moral elevation. Chapter 1 also includes an overview of the empirical research that follows in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5. In Chapter 2 and 3, we test the effects of moral elevation on general and intergroup prosociality. We find that moral elevation increases general prosocial motivation (Study 1, 5-11-year-olds, N=91; Study 3, 13-14-year-olds, N=150) and outgroup prosocial motivation and behaviour (Study 2, 5-11-year-olds, N=125). In Chapter 4, we explore the (dis)similarities of the experience of moral elevation and admiration (Study 4, 5-11-year-olds, N=213; Study 5, 9-11-year-olds, N=203). These studies show that cognitive appraisals, and subsequent motivations associated with moral elevation and admiration differ, and that differences may become more pronounced between mid to late childhood. In Chapter 5, we test the effects of a longitudinal intervention designed to increase engagement with moral beauty, in school-settings (Study 6, 9-11-year-olds, N=36; Study 7, 11-12-year-olds, N=150), and in a lab-based setting with undergraduate students (Study 8, 18-31-year-olds, N=38). We found that repeatedly reflecting on displays of moral beauty over an extended period of time, increased feelings of moral elevation in 11-12-year-olds and undergraduate students, but not children aged 9-11 years old. Chapter 6 provides an integrative discussion of the findings, theoretical and practical implications and avenues for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Abrams, Dominic
Thesis advisor: Cameron, Lindsey
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.91152
Uncontrolled keywords: Children, moral elevation, emotions, appraisals, prosocial behavior, intergroup
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2021 09:45 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2021 10:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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