Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Denise R. Beike

Committee Member

Jennifer C. Veilleux

Second Committee Member

Anastasia Makhanova


Altruism, Guilt, Helping, Prosocial Behavior, Regret, Sadness


Previous research has suggested that emotions can influence people’s motivation to engage in prosocial behaviors. Even negatively-valenced emotions, like sadness, guilt, and shame, have been shown to motivate prosocial behaviors. Exploratory analyses of a previous study indicated that regret may also motivate increased prosocial intentions, but no research has been published to experimentally test whether feelings of regret may motivate prosocial behaviors. Therefore, the present research seeks to experimentally manipulate participants’ current emotional state to empirically examine whether regret motivates greater helping behavior than other, similar negative emotions that have already been demonstrated to motivate prosocial behaviors in humans. These studies will also use two separate samples to examine potential age differences in the effects of regret on prosocial behavior. Study 1 indicated that there were no differences in prosocial behavior between emotion conditions but there was a marginal difference between the undergraduate and Prolific samples. Study 2 replicated these results and further suggests that prosocial behavior may be motivated by altruism rather than egotism.