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Rising up to higher virtues: Experiencing elevated physical height uplifts prosocial actions

by Lawrence J. Sanna, Edward C. Chang, Paul M. Miceli, Kristjen B. Lundberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology ()


Many challenges of society involve getting people to act prosocially in ways that are costly for self-interests but beneficial to the greater good. The authors in four studies examined the novel hypothesis that elevating (vertical) height promotes prosocial actions. In Study 1, shoppers riding up (vs. down) escalators contributed more often to charity. In Study 2, participants sitting higher (vs. lower) helped another longer, while in Study 3 participants sitting higher (vs. lower) were more compassionate. In Study 4, watching video primes depicting scenes from a high perspective led to more cooperative resource conservation. These studies contribute uniquely to the prosociality literature by documenting previously unexamined effects of metaphor-enriched social cognition, and to the metaphor-enriched social cognition literature by documenting effects of elevated height on real prosocial actions. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

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