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Distinct mental trainings differentially affect altruistically motivated, norm motivated, and self-reported prosocial behaviour

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Böckler,  Anne
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Julius Maximilian University, Würzburg, Germany;

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Tusche,  Anita
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA;

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Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Böckler, A., Tusche, A., Schmidt, P., & Singer, T. (2018). Distinct mental trainings differentially affect altruistically motivated, norm motivated, and self-reported prosocial behaviour. Scientific Reports, 8: 13560. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31813-8.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-F48A-0
Abstract
Global challenges such as climate change or the refugee crises emphasize the necessity of altruism and cooperation. In a large-scale 9-month intervention study, we investigated the malleability of prosociality by three distinct mental trainings cultivating attention, socio-affective, or socio-cognitive skills. We assessed numerous established measures of prosociality that capture three core facets: Altruistically motivated behaviours, norm motivated behaviours, and self-reported prosociality. Results of multiple time point confirmatory factor analyses support the validity and temporal stability of this model. Furthermore, linear mixed effects models reveal differential effects of mental trainings on the subcomponents of prosociality: Only training care and compassion effectively boosted altruistically motivated behaviour. No effects were revealed for norm-based behaviour. Self-reported prosociality increased with all training modules; this increase was, however, unrelated to changes in task-based measures of altruistic behaviour. These findings corroborate our motivation-based framework of prosociality, challenge economic views of fixed preferences by showing that socio-affective training boosts altruism, and inform policy makers and society about how to increase global cooperation.