University of Illinois at Chicago
LEVY-THESIS-2023.pdf (373.5 kB)

Further Examination of the Prosocial Advantage in Memory

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posted on 2023-08-01, 00:00 authored by Pauline Urban Levy
In this investigation, we further examine memory for social targets who engage in prosocial behaviors. Prior work has found enhanced memory for cheating behaviors, which suggests some types of behaviors are more memorable than others. Researchers in this domain (i.e., cheating) have argued that this effect occurs because people want to avoid others who may cheat them in the future. A similar memory advantage has been found for prosocial behaviors, possibly because people may want to remember others who may help them in the future. This past work that has found this prosocial effect in memory, however, did not control for the positive valence of prosocial behaviors which could have been a possible confounding factor (i.e., the positive nature of prosocial behaviors could be driving the prosocial memory effect). The current investigation aims to further explore the prosocial memory advantage as well as to investigate the impact that positive valence may have on this memory effect. Participants were asked to form impressions of social targets paired with either prosocial behaviors or with control behaviors (non-prosocial positive or non-prosocial neutral). Participants then completed a memory task where they were asked to remember both their impressions (i.e., impression memory) and the behaviors paired with targets (i.e., behavior memory). Results did not support prior findings of a prosocial memory advantage as measured by either impression or behavior memory. Specifically, there was no significant difference in impression memory across the different types of behaviors (prosocial, non-prosocial positive, non-prosocial neutral). Interestingly, behavior memory was significantly better for non-prosocial neutral behaviors compared to both the prosocial and non-prosocial positive behaviors. Overall, these results are contrary to past work finding a prosocial advantage in memory.



Leshikar, Eric D


Leshikar, Eric D



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Masters

Degree name

MA, Master of Arts

Committee Member

Goldman, Susan Szpunar, Karl

Submitted date

August 2023

Thesis type



  • en

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