Date of Award

Winter 12-6-2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Donald Sacco

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Lucas Keefer

Committee Member 3

Elena Stepanova

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Alen Hajnal

Committee Member 4 School

Psychology

Abstract

In order to examine the possibility that individuals continue having children and holding positive views toward reproduction regardless of how much their future children might suffer because of an optimism bias, I conducted two experimental studies examining the effect of optimism manipulation on people’s opinions of anti-natalism, the position that it is morally wrong for individuals to reproduce. In Study 1, participants received an optimism (v. pessimism or control) manipulation about either themselves or a future child before being asked to read an essay about anti-natalism and a control essay having to do with parents being involved in school activities. Participants then rated their feelings about the authors and completed an anti-natalism scale. I predicted that individuals primed for optimism about their future children would be lower in support for anti-natalism than people primed with a negative emotion (pessimism), optimism about their self, and those in the control conditions. As for Study 2, participants received an optimism (v. pessimism or control) × self (v. economy) manipulation. I predicted that individuals primed for optimism about the economy would be lower in support for anti-natalism than people primed with a negative emotion (pessimism), optimism about their self, and those in the control conditions. Overall, I found that optimism (v. pessimism) did not reduce (or increase) support for anti-natalism in comparison to the other groups. Instead, it is suggested that anti-natalism is a relatively unpopular belief that is not easily manipulated.

ORCID ID

0000-0002-3090-4372

Available for download on Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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