Effects of audio and visual priming on prosocial behavior.

Tiffanie Wilson, Tifani Fletcher


Priming may be a means to increase prosocial behavior, and past research suggests that individuals with higher levels of altruistic beliefs may be more susceptible to different forms of priming. The extent and circumstances in which priming influences prosocial behaviors are not well understood. We expanded upon a previous successful conceptual replication of Howard, Nelson, and Sleigh (2011), in which prosocial behavior was not influenced by a written priming exercise or altruism beliefs. The current study attempted to further examine if altering the presentation format of the priming condition to a visual/audio example would alter prosocial behaviors. A brief video/audio clip was created for each of the four priming conditions (needed help, received help, gave help, and control) using a car with a flat tire scenario. After watching one of the four videos, participants were presented with a request to perform a prosocial altruistic behavior. Results from 164 participants indicated no significant findings regarding the influences of visual/audio priming, and altruism belief scores on prosocial behavior, χ2(3, n=155)=6.48, p=.09, and F(3, 149)= 0.39, p=.376, respectively. Therefore using a brief written or visual/audio priming activity did not influence prosocial behaviors, and altruism belief scores were not indicative of the likelihood of prosocial behavior. Overall, women were significantly more likely than men to offer assistance, and interestingly, empathy scores, but not altruism belief scores, were related to prosocial behavior. Future research should further elucidate if, and how, other activities could influence prosocial behaviors.

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