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The Effect of Guilt on Altruism in the One-Shot Anonymous Prisoner's Dilemma Game

Reed, Lawrence Ian (2010) The Effect of Guilt on Altruism in the One-Shot Anonymous Prisoner's Dilemma Game. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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There exists a wide body of literature suggesting that individuals behave more altruistically in situations that 1) provide an opportunity for reciprocation and 2) are not anonymous. Past research investigating the altruistic functions of induced social emotions have been conducted solely in the context of either iterative and/or face-to-face interactions. As a result, the altruistic behaviors found in these studies cannot be solely attributed to these induced emotions. In light of these past works, the current study compared cooperation rates of individuals following either a guilt or neutral mood induction procedure in an anonymous, one-shot social dilemma (i.e. the prisoner's dilemma). Participants were 120 female undergraduates (60 engaged in a guilt induction procedure and 60 engaged in a neutral mood induction procedure) enrolled at a large university asked to participate in a one-shot social dilemma with a partner that they would never meet. Primary analyses found no evidence regarding group differences in rates of cooperation. Secondary analyses of subjective emotions ratings (i.e. guilt, happiness, sadness, anger, and fear) suggest that generalized negative affect may be associated with decreased rates of cooperation while positive affect may be associated with increase rates of cooperation. Future research investigating the effects of generalized negative and positive affect as well as specifically induced emotions needs to be conducted to further evaluate this suggestion.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reed, Lawrence
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDahl, Ronald
Committee MemberShaw, Danielcasey@pitt.eduCASEY
Committee MemberSiegle,
Committee MemberSayette, Michaelsayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Committee MemberManuck, Stephenmanuck@pitt.eduMANUCK
Date: 30 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 September 2009
Approval Date: 30 September 2010
Submission Date: 30 March 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: altruism; emotion; game theory; guilt; social dilemma
Other ID:, etd-03302010-202539
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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