Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jason T. Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eusebio M. Alvaro

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Tara Parnitvithikul


attributions, deservingness, helping judgments, moral emotions, responsibility

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


Judgments of responsibility and deservingness are two cognitive appraisals that independently predict other-directed moral emotions and helping judgments. The current research integrated theories of responsibility and deservingness to investigate a novel approach for increasing support to individuals with depression. Study 1 used a correlational design to identify patterns of relationships among the variables of interest. Responsibility and deservingness were positively correlated, and both appraisals were positively associated with anger and negatively associated with sympathy and willingness to help. When responsibility and deservingness were considered as simultaneous antecedents of emotional responses in the same model; however, only responsibility predicted lower levels of sympathy and higher levels of anger. By extension, sympathy predicted less willingness to help. Study 2 tested the effects of responsibility (high vs. low) and deservingness (deserved vs. undeserved) experimentally and assessed their differential effects on emotions and helping judgments. Results indicated that low perceived responsibility and un deservingness judgments increased sympathy and reduced anger, and sympathy was associated with greater willingness to help. Study 3 expanded on these findings and experimentally varied responsibility and deservingness via the use of depression public service announcements (DPSAs). The method employed by Study 3 enhanced the ecological validity of Study 2 findings and generated insights for future campaigns. Four DPSAs were developed based on the factorial combination of the two independent variables: lack of responsibility, undeservingness, combination (lack of responsibility and undeservingness), and comparison (absence of both lack of responsibility and undeservingness). The comparison DPSA differed from the other three DPSAs only by two sentences (e.g., “No one deserves to feel this kind of sadness. No one deserves to have depression.”). Findings revealed that emphasizing lack of responsibility did not lead to differences in emotional responses toward others with depression. However, highlighting un deservingness in a DPSA elicited more sympathy, which was associated with greater willingness to help. Across all three studies, the responsibility by deservingness interaction did not significantly predict emotional responses. Together, this set of studies provided theoretical clarity concerning two related cognitive appraisals and identified an innovative approach to increase support for individuals with depression (e.g., “no one deserve to have depression”).