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Title: Effects of Consumer Decisions on Empathy & Altruistic Behaviors: A Study on Decision Fatigue & Activated Self-Preferences
Authors: Virk, Zarnab
Advisors: Graziano, Michael
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: The effects of decision fatigue on cognitive function and self-regulation have recently become a topic of study by both psychologists and economists. Specifically, in our current society that is filled with a continuous stream of decisions, influenced heavily by the rise of consumerism, there are broad implications for study of this topic. We predicted that these excessive consumer decisions would affect consumers’ mental states in lasting ways, specifically when purchasing items closely tied to the self. Clothing is one such sector of consumerism that is symbolically tied to our sense of self. Therefore, we hypothesized that the increase in self-referencing that arises from purchasing clothing would have detrimental effects on other-focuses responses such as empathy and altruism. Further, we re-tested the effects of decision fatigue specifically to measure empathy and altruism once again. We observed a robust effect for both manipulations: both self-referencing and increased decisions had a positive effect on empathy responses for males, whereas a combined-gender analysis revealed positive effects of self-referencing only on empathy. Possible explanations are discussed, including the possibility of a U-shaped trend in decision fatigue, rather than the previously thought linear effect. Keywords: decision fatigue, consumerism, hyper-choice, empathy, altruism, self-identity
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2020

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