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UBC Theses and Dissertations

When ‘I’ belong I don’t care about ‘you’ : the role of self-construal and social inclusion in pro-social behaviour directed at animal out-group recipients South, Cluny


This dissertation is aimed at improving understanding of the mechanisms at play in prosocial behaviour, as a function of recipient group identity (i.e. in-group vs. out-group member), self-construal, and social inclusion. While some research has examined the impacts of self-construal on prosocial behaviour, as well as the downstream reactions to threats of exclusion, little research has looked at the impact that perceptions of inclusion may have on prosocial behaviour. Moreover even less research has looked at how promises, or reminders, of social inclusion may be specifically experienced by individuals with high independent self-construal, and how this may impact their subsequent prosocial behaviour towards out-group (vs. in-group) targets of concern. The goal of this dissertation is to explore the interaction between inclusion and independent self-construal, with a focus on the downstream consequences for prosocial behaviour directed at out-groups. Across five experimental studies I demonstrate that individuals with high independent self-construal may behave more prosocially towards out-group targets (more inclusively in two grouping tasks, and more prosocially in two donation tasks) under normal conditions, in comparison with individuals high in interdependent self-construal. I also offer evidence that following an affirmation of social inclusion status the pattern reverses and individuals with high independent self-construal behave less prosocially towards out-group targets. Furthermore, I provide some tentative evidence to support the argument that individuals with high independent self-construal may be motivated to behave prosocially towards out-group targets in order to maximise social connection potential, and that feelings of similarity may increase this. Finally, I demonstrate that feelings of connection to cause may mediate these mechanisms in the case of donation intentions. Taken together this dissertation builds on previous research, and then extends it to demonstrate that while individuals with high independent self-construal may behave more prosocially to out-groups under normal circumstances, promises or reminders of inclusion may reverse this pattern, decreasing prosocial behaviour. I provide some preliminary evidence that the increase (decrease) in prosocial behaviour is as a result of increased (decreased) motivation for social interaction.

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