Date of Award


Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Donald Sacco

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Mitch Brown

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Alen Hajnal

Committee Member 3 School



One’s decision to engage in prosocial behavior relies on various pieces of social information. The physical attractiveness of a social target could inform a perceiver’s subsequent intentions. In identifying which aspect of physical attractiveness could inform these decisions, it could be possible that prosocial decisions are heightened among those with sex-typical facial structures. This study explored the extent to which sex-typical facial structures informed perceivers’ interest in the context of social activism. Participants imagined themselves as responding to a request from a social target, deciding how behavior with high-cost and low-cost options. The male or female social target was manipulated to vary in sex typicality (i.e., masculinized versus feminized). Men and women did not report greater interest in prosocial behavior toward an opposite-sex target with sex-typical facial features. However, participants were more likely to comply with low-cost activism behaviors than high-cost ones. Women additionally reported greater willingness to comply with prosocial requests. Exploratory analyses indicated that higher self-reported social activism predicted greater compliance with activism requests from masculinized female targets, an effect descriptively higher for high-cost activism. These findings underscore the multifaceted nature of individuals’ responses to social activism cues, emphasizing the influence of both participant characteristics and target characteristics. Implications for this study are discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, August 01, 2024