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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Julie Van de Vyver

Van de Vyver, J. & Abrams, D. (2017). Is moral elevation an approach-oriented emotion? The Journal of Positive Psychology 12(2): 178-185.

Author(s) from Durham


Two studies were designed to test whether moral elevation should be conceptualized as an approach-oriented emotion. The studies examined the relationship between moral elevation and the behavioral activation and inhibition systems. Study 1 (N = 80) showed that individual differences in moral elevation were associated with individual differences in behavioral activation but not inhibition. Study 2 (N = 78) showed that an elevation-inducing video promoted equally high levels of approach orientation as an anger-inducing video and significantly higher levels of approach orientation than a control video. Furthermore, the elevation-inducing stimulus (vs. the control condition) significantly promoted prosocial motivation and this effect was sequentially mediated by feelings of moral elevation followed by an approach-oriented state. Overall the results show unambiguous support for the proposal that moral elevation is an approach-oriented emotion. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed.