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The role of anxiety, social phobia and physiological arousal in prosocial behaviour

Turner, Liza Emily (2015) The role of anxiety, social phobia and physiological arousal in prosocial behaviour. University of West London. (Unpublished)


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Research has traditionally been successful in the classification of situational factors that are predictive of prosocial behaviour. However less conclusive agreement has been reached in identifying internal traits associated with prosocial behaviour. A growing body of research has implicated the serotonin system in individual differences in prosociality, and as such has begun to associate anxiety and social phobia with propensity to behave prosocially. The present research, a quasi-experiment, is the first study outside of the field of behavioural neuroscience to directly explore the role of anxiety, specifically social phobia, and physiological arousal in prosocial behaviour. Undergraduate students (n = 32) were provided with an opportunity to engage in a prosocial act whilst their physiological arousal was measured using a BIOPAC MP36R. Self-report measures of trait anxiety/total phobia, including social phobia, were collected, in addition to positive and negative affectivity measures. A Kruskall-Wallace test found, as hypothesised, level of physiological arousal at the point of presentation of the opportunity to act prosocially, and furthermore mean level of physiological arousal, were significantly affected by total level of phobia/trait anxiety. Further regression analysis approached significance in assessing the power of total phobia/trait anxiety in predicting variance in physiological arousal to the behavioural experiment measure of prosocial behaviour.

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