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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Julie Van de Vyver

Van de Vyver, J. & Abrams, D. (2015). Testing the prosocial effectiveness of the prototypical moral emotions: Elevation increases benevolent behaviors and outrage increases justice behaviors. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 58: 23-33.

Author(s) from Durham


How can we overcome apathy and instigate a desire to help others? This research tests and compares the prosocial effects of two of the most prototypical emotions on a range of prosocial intentions and behaviors. Emotion-inducing videos were used to instigate states of moral elevation (felt when witnessing a moral virtue) and/or moral outrage (felt when witnessing a moral transgression). Although elevation and outrage are derived from opposing appraisals, separate strands of research show that they both instigate a desire to help others. The current research tests the appraisal tendency framework to explore whether elevation and outrage increase prosociality across moral domains or whether their prosocial effects are domain specific. Results of Experiment 1 showed that elevation, but not outrage, increased donations to charity (i.e., benevolence domain). Experiment 2 showed that outrage, but not elevation, increased prosocial political action intentions (i.e., justice domain). Experiment 3 showed that outrage, but not elevation, increased compensation in a third-party bystander game (i.e., justice domain). This research shows that although elevation and outrage both inspire a desire to help others, they affect distinct types of prosocial behaviors, offering support for the appraisal tendency framework. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed.