Guy D. Vitaglione, Ph.D.

Advisor: Dr. Mark Barnett

Dissertation Title

Empathic anger is a predictor of punishing and helping behaviors 

Dissertation Abstract

The present research addressed the question of whether empathy can be experienced in terms of anger on behalf of a victimized person (i.e., "empathic anger"). The present research also tested whether empathic anger motivates behaviors intended to help a victim, or behaviors intended to punish a transgressor, or both. Five studies were conducted. Studies 1-3 developed and validated a measure of trait empathic anger. Study 4 validated a measure of state empathic anger, and tested whether participants' empathic anger has an effect on their likelihood to engage in helping and punishing behaviors. State empathic anger had direct, positive effects on both helping and punishing behaviors, and trait empathic anger had mediated effects (via state empathic anger) on both behaviors. Study 5 tested whether participants' empathic anger has an effect on the amount of time they would volunteer to engage in helping and punishing behaviors. State empathic anger had direct, positive effects on helping behavior, and trait empathic anger had mediated effects (via state empathic anger) on helping behavior. Implications for future empathy and prosocial behavior research are discussed.

Education

Ph.D., Psychology, Kansas State University, 1998