Dissertation Defense: Kruti Vekaria
Candidate Name: Kruti Vekaria
Advisor: Abigail Marsh, Ph.D.
Title: Generosity Across Time and Space: Examining the Roles of Temporal Delay, Social Distance, and Risk in Altruistic Decisions
In a series of three related studies, this dissertation builds on previous research on the implications of psychological distance on prosocial behavior. Across five samples, we used ecologically valid participants and methodologies to better understand the mechanisms underlying altruistic behaviors across three dimensions – time, social distance, and risk. We first explored bone marrow donation decisions across two different time points and found that new registry members construe the decision differently than potential matching donors. We next examined the processes underlying the extension of altruism to socially distant individuals in samples of altruists and controls, and determined that costly altruism varies as a function of valuation (not perception). Building on these initial studies, we investigated the social discounting function in a national sample to further understand how individual differences can explain costly generosity toward distant others, and found that generosity does not vary as a function of political beliefs. Finally, in the last study we used ecologically valid measures (and in a subset of the sample, a neuroimaging empathic pain paradigm) to assess differential predictors of low-cost prosocial helping in daily life. Together, the studies in this dissertation suggest that the affective processes associated with temporal delay, the valuational mechanisms related to social distance, and the motivational role of empathy all play a role in facilitating generous behavior.
Friday, March 29 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm
White-Gravenor Hall, 405
37th and O St., N.W., Washington