Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Sara K Bridges

Committee Member

Douglas Strohmer

Committee Member

Sharon Horne

Committee Member

Richard Scott


Prosocial behaviors are considered to be beneficial, not only to the person who receives them, but also to the person acting as the benefactor, and are shown to increase positive outcomes such as vitality, self-esteem and subjective well-being (Weinstein & Ryan, 2010). While various researchers have questioned why people do or do not act prosocially (e.g., Batson, Harris, McCaul, Davis, & Schmidt, 1979; Eisenberg et al., 1999, etc.), the understanding about the factors that lead to or inhibit prosocial behaviors remains lacking. It is known that positive moral characteristics such as empathy (e.g., Batson, 1984, 1991), perspective taking (e.g., Batson, 1987) and gratitude (e.g., Bartlett & DeSteno, 2006) are related to prosocial behaviors; however, the relationship is not perfect and may be influenced by outside factors such as high emotionality and lack of emotional regulation (Caprara & Steca, 2005; Gibbons & Wickland, 1982). The purpose of this study is to look at the impact of neuroticism (which includes a lack of emotional regulation, high emotionality, and an element of self-focus) on the relationship between moral characteristics and prosocial behaviors. This study collected and analyzed data from 214 respondents, using hierarchical regression procedures. Results indicated that a person’s level of neuroticism did not impact the relationship between empathy and prosocial behaviors nor the relationship between perspective taking and prosocial behaviors. When looking at the relationship between gratitude and prosocial behaviors, a mid-level of neuroticism was predictive of acting prosocially. Additionally, post-hoc hierarchical regression analyses examining the relationship between moral characteristics and prosocial behaviors indicated that empathy was the only significant predictor of acting prococially. The implications of how these results may impact researchers and counseling psychologists, as well as limitations and future directions, are provided.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.