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Altruism and Elevation Relationship Essay (Article)


Schnall, Roper, and Fessler are some of the major scholars who have undertaken extensive studies on the feeling of elevation. A study by the scholars strived to ascertain whether the feeling of elevation that individuals experience when they witness another individual performing a good action helps in improving the desire to help others. During the study, the researchers performed two experiments to determine the link between altruism and elevation. Before conducting the study, the researchers measured elevation among the different participants who were in conditions that induced elevation and others who were in control conditions. The exercise helped in determining whether altruistic behaviours lead to elevation (Schnall, Roper & Fessler, 2010).

After carrying out the first experiment, the researchers discovered that elevation increased the likelihood of the participants to offer to participate in unpaid studies in the future. However, participants who were in a neutral state were less likely to offer to participate in unpaid studies in the future. In the second experiment, the researchers discovered that those participants who experienced elevation spent more time helping the researchers in handling hard tasks.

On the other hand, participants who did not experience elevation were less likely to help the researchers in handling hard tasks. The researchers were able to ascertain that a feeling of elevation could predict the extent of help that people are willing to offer. Thus, through their studies, the researchers were able to prove their hypothesis. They discovered that that witnessing another person’s altruist behaviour helped in bringing out elevation in an individual. This increased altruism among people (Schnall, Roper & Fessler, 2010).

The researchers described elevation as the positive emotions that an individual who witnesses virtuous actions gets. The researchers applied the experiences, recollections, and responses of American undergraduate students in showing the relationship that existed between witnessing a virtuous action and altruism. Initially, the researchers had assumed that previous participants had proclaimed that witnessing of virtuous actions led them to become uplifted or inspired.

This influenced them to perform actions that were beneficial to the society. According to the contemporary theory of emotion, behaviours that have a close relationship with emotions provide a means of determining the behavioural functions, origins, and social consequences of people (Ashford & LeCroy, 2012). However, the researchers carried out their experiments despite the presence of limited evidence on how altruism encourages people to engage in prosocial behaviours.

During the first experiment, fifty nine women who were aged between 18 and 26 years took part in the research. The researchers had recruited them from the community living near the University of Plymouth at a fee of three pounds each to engage in the study. However, the studies abstained from using the data collected from three of the participants due to various reasons. In addition, the study utilised a 7-minute clip attained from ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ The researchers also used rating scales that ranged from 1 to 9, signifying ‘no feeling’ to ‘strong feelings,’ to assess any cognitive appraisals or emotions that they witnessed due to elevation of the participants. When carrying out the experiment, the researchers exposed the participants to different contexts. In addition, the researchers requested people who took part in the study to write short essays on what they could remember.

Their reports encompassed their experiences in the experiments that were either under induced elevation or controlled conditions. Therefore, the participants had different essays. The researchers then remunerated the participants and requested them to complete payment receipts. The study had dependent measures that inquired whether the participants would be willing to participate in further unpaid studies. These measures helped the experimenters to establish the relationship that existed between altruism and the witnessing of virtuous actions. The first experiment showed that the participants who were under controlled conditions had lower ratings than those who participated under elevated conditions (Schnall, Roper & Fessler, 2010).

On the other hand, the second experiment provided support for the hypothesis of the research. The second experiment strived to prove that elevation influences altruism. In the experiment, the participants who spent more time helping the researchers had higher levels of elevation than those who did not help the researchers. The times spent by the participants who were in elevated conditions in helping the experimenters was double the time spent by those in controlled conditions in carrying out the duties involved in the experiment. These studies helped in revealing that elevation is a discrete condition that is different from the positive moods that people may experience. The studies suggested that exposure to prosocial behaviours leads to altruism. They also suggested that further research should focus on the distribution of elevation. In addition, further research should focus on the duration that the positive effects of elevation stays with people (Schnall, Roper & Fessler, 2010).

Silvers and Haidt are some of the scholars that have also undertaken research on the effects of good deeds. The researchers determined that people have various psychological or physiological responses when they witness good deeds (Silvers & Haidt, 2008). Dr. Teoh Ngee Heng is another scholar who has undertaken a similar study. In the study, Heng strived to determine whether there was a relationship between job satisfaction, the witnessing of good acts by the participants, and their levels of altruism.

Heng conducted the study among two groups of employees at the University of Malaysia to ascertain how their level of satisfaction at their workplaces influenced the levels of their altruistic behaviours. The findings of the study revealed that employees derived their job satisfaction from their salaries, the administration systems that the organisation used, and the organisation’s policies. Increase in the appeal of these factors increased the satisfaction of the employees. This contributed to numerous altruistic activities. Both experiments used similar conditions in carrying out tests. One group was under elevated conditions while the other was under controlled conditions (Heng, 2009).


Ashford, J.B. & LeCroy, C.W. (2012). Brooks/Cole empowerment series: Human behaviour in the social environment. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Heng, T.N. (2009). Case study of two factors influencing job satisfaction and altruism in two Malaysian universities. International Business Research, 2(2), 86-98.

Schnall, S., Roper, J. & Fessler, D.M.T. (2010). Elevation leads to altruistic behaviour. Psychological Science, 21(3), 315-320.

Silvers, J.A. & Haidt, J. (2008). Moral elevation can induce nursing. Emotion, 8(1), 291-295.

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