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Lecture 9

PSYC 305 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Dacher Keltner, Alexithymia, Prosocial Behavior

Course Code
PSYC 305
David King

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Dispositional Happiness:
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. 1015% 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
Dispositional Empathy:
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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