Current Lab Research
Thinking About Future Behavior
With the help of Dr. Peter Caprariello, we are investigating the moral licensing effect in the context of prosocial behavior. For the study we hypothesized that if people anticipate behaving immorally towards someone else in the future, they might engage in relatively moral behaviors now, as a form of “proactive moral compensation.” This way of looking at the licensing effect, in which the anticipation of future behaviors affects the motivations for current behaviors, deviates from the usual paradigm employed by research in this area, which focuses on how past behaviors influence the present. Our idea is that the prospect of future behaviors harming others may influence how we treat those people now, an idea not yet documented in the moral licensing literature. Further, in our study, Dr. Caprariello and I may be able to compare different underlying processes of licensing effects when anticipation is involved (such as moral credit theory vs. moral credential theory). As of now, the study is still in development.
Culture, Obligation, and Well-being Study
Prosocial spending motives can be categorized into recipient-centered motives and self-centered motives. Four motives - to enhance the self, to fulfill obligations, to enhance recipients, and to support recipients - have been tested for their effects on hedonic and eudaemonic well-being in prior research (Caprariello & Reis, 2021). Two motives in particular stood out for their reliable effects on well-being: Recipient-enhancement (a recipient-centered motive) exhibited a strong positive effect on well-being and obligation (a self-centered motive) exhibited a strong negative effect on well-being. The current study acts as an extension of this research to explore whether findings are consistent across individualistic and collectivistic cultures. We measure levels of collectivism and individualism and compare the strength of the associations between obligation and well-being and between recipient-enhancement and well-being across cultures. Cultures that place collective values (e.g., social harmony, social duties, and roles) place higher premiums on familial obligations. It is possible that the negative effects we observed for obligation might actually be positive in collectivist cultural contexts.