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Abstract

Self-control is a complex and multifaceted construct that can be regarded as an individual trait that follows its own developmental trajectory. In the presented study we used NAS-50 for the assessment of self-control in adolescents and young adults. Since the questionnaire has not been used before in underage participants we tested its reliability in adolescent and adult samples. We also investigated possible age and gender differences in self-control abilities as well as relations between NAS-50 and behavioral measures of cognitive control and impulsivity. Although the sample was quite small, the reliability of the questionnaire was similar to the results achieved by its authors. According to the predictions in the literature we did not find relations between NAS-50 and behavioral measures of cognitive control and impulsivity. We also did not observe significant age differences in the assessment of self-control abilities. The theoretical relevance of our results is discussed.
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Abstract

Although the majority of people value the idea of helping others, they often take no particular action. In two field studies we investigated the impact of differently justified requests for spontaneous charity donations and for antisocial behavior like stealing. In the experiments, unwatched stands with cookies and money jars were placed on a crowded city square with one of three different notes: (1) detailed prosocial justification, (2) general justification or (3) no justification. After testing almost 500 participants, we show that mere general arguments can both increase prosocial behavior and decrease antisocial behavior. Additionally, detailed prosocial justification augments generosity, causing people voluntarily to pay more than required. We conclude that prosocial (compliance with request) and antisocial (stealing) behavior is guided by automatic processes that track that there is any reason for the request, while generosity is guided by reflective assessment of the justification of the request.
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