PSYC 305 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Dacher Keltner, Alexithymia, Prosocial Behavior
Course CodePSYC 305
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o Some people are more likely to feel happy than others
• Often termed subjective well-being
o 3 components:
1. Cognitive appraisal of satisfaction with life.
2. The presence of positive emotions.
3. The absence of negative emotions.
o Individual Differences in Happiness:
• Demographic variables account for approx. 10–15% of variance.
• Personality traits account for 3 times as much variance in happiness as demographic variables.
• McCrae & hCosta (1991) – Happy people tend to be…
1. High in extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness
2. Low in neuroticism
o Does Money Buy Happiness?
• Correlations between .12 and .25 have been observed between income and happiness
• What about spending money on others? Spending money on others (prosocial spending) can
have a larger positive impact on happiness than spending the same amount on oneself
o The ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and
1. Perspective Taking – Adopting perspective of others.
2. Fantasy – Identifying with fictional characters.
3. Empathic Concern – Having warm feelings toward/ concern for others.
4. Personal Distress – Anxiety in response to negative experiences of others.
o Social Benefits of Empathy:
• Perspective taking can reduce problematic social attitudes/behaviours: Prejudice, Stereotype
expression, Interpersonal aggression
o Money/Power and Empathy?
• Keely Muscatell (UCLA) – People with great income “exhibit less activity in the regions of the
brain associated empathy.”
• Dacher Keltner (UC Berkeley) – Found in 12 different studies that “lower class people just show
more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”
• Rich people are more likely to: Cut in front while driving/double park, ignore pedestrians, take
candy from a jar marked “for children,” lie to get money
o A personality construct characterized by difficulty identifying feelings, difficulty describing feelings to other
people, and an externally bound cognitive style
o Individuals show a marked deficit in experiencing positive emotions, empathy.
o See also: emotional intelligence (involves low alexithymia)
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