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Stress influences environmental donation behavior in men


Sollberger, Silja; Bernauer, Thomas; Ehlert, Ulrike (2016). Stress influences environmental donation behavior in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 63:311-319.

Abstract

Stress has been found to have both positive and negative effects on prosocial behavior, suggesting the involvement of moderating factors such as context and underlying motives. In the present study, we investigated the conditions under which acute stress leads to an increase vs. decrease in environmental donation behavior as an indicator of prosocial behavior. In particular, we examined whether the effects of stress depended on preexisting pro-environmental orientation and stage of the donation decision (whether or not to donate vs. the amount to be donated).

Male participants with either high (N = 40) or low (N = 39) pro-environmental orientation were randomly assigned to a social stress test or a control condition. Salivary cortisol was assessed repeatedly before and after stress induction. At the end of the experiment, all subjects were presented with an opportunity to donate a portion of their monetary compensation to a climate protection foundation.

We found that stress significantly increased donation frequency, but only in subjects with low pro-environmental orientation. Congruously, their decision to donate was positively associated with cortisol response to the stress test and the emotion regulation strategy mood repair, as well as accompanied by an increase in subjective calmness. In contrast, among the participants who decided to donate, stress significantly reduced the donated amount of money, regardless of pro-environmental orientation.

In conclusion, our findings suggest that acute stress might generally activate more self-serving motivations, such as making oneself feel better and securing one’s own material interests. Importantly, however, a strong pro-environmental orientation partially prevented these effects.

Abstract

Stress has been found to have both positive and negative effects on prosocial behavior, suggesting the involvement of moderating factors such as context and underlying motives. In the present study, we investigated the conditions under which acute stress leads to an increase vs. decrease in environmental donation behavior as an indicator of prosocial behavior. In particular, we examined whether the effects of stress depended on preexisting pro-environmental orientation and stage of the donation decision (whether or not to donate vs. the amount to be donated).

Male participants with either high (N = 40) or low (N = 39) pro-environmental orientation were randomly assigned to a social stress test or a control condition. Salivary cortisol was assessed repeatedly before and after stress induction. At the end of the experiment, all subjects were presented with an opportunity to donate a portion of their monetary compensation to a climate protection foundation.

We found that stress significantly increased donation frequency, but only in subjects with low pro-environmental orientation. Congruously, their decision to donate was positively associated with cortisol response to the stress test and the emotion regulation strategy mood repair, as well as accompanied by an increase in subjective calmness. In contrast, among the participants who decided to donate, stress significantly reduced the donated amount of money, regardless of pro-environmental orientation.

In conclusion, our findings suggest that acute stress might generally activate more self-serving motivations, such as making oneself feel better and securing one’s own material interests. Importantly, however, a strong pro-environmental orientation partially prevented these effects.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:04 Nov 2015 15:34
Last Modified:18 Aug 2018 23:07
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-4530
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.10.017
PubMed ID:26546784
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID295456
  • : Project TitleSOURCELEG - Sources of Legitimacy in Global Environmental Governance

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