Date of Award

8-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark

Abstract

Towards developing an applied behavioral technology that treats altruism as the dependent variable of interest, there is a necessity for understanding the contextual conditions under which altruistic behavior is most likely to occur. The purpose of the study was to evaluate how relative contextual conditions affected social discounting. Thirty-six participants were given three social discounting surveys, each survey preceded by a different contextual scenario. In each scenario, either the participant, a hypothetical other, or both the participant and the hypothetical other were in need of money to avoid a negative outcome. The results suggest that there was a significant difference in social discounting across the three contextual conditions F (2, 35) = 34.28., p < 0.0001), where the greatest discounting occurred when participants were exclusively in need. Hyperbolic functions provided a strong fit for each of the conditions (R² = 0.98, R² = 0.98, R² = 0.84, respectively), and the relationships between participant scores in each of the condition was evaluated.

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