Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey D. Green

Second Advisor

Dr. Kirk W. Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Allison S. Gabriel Rossetti


Compassion requires both attention and motivation to engage with another person’s experience. Two studies examined whether curiosity—the interest and motivation to explore new or complex information—promotes empathic concern and suppresses personal distress. These studies also examined whether attachment insecurity moderates curiosity’s effect on empathy. Study 1 identified correlations among curiosity, attachment security, empathic concern, and personal distress traits. In Study 2, participants were primed with high or low curiosity before watching a video of a peer experiencing hardship, then reported state curiosity, empathic concern, personal distress, and prosocial motivation. Trait and state curiosity predicted greater empathic concern and prosocial motivation. In Study 1, greater attachment anxiety was shown to weaken trait curiosity’s relationship with empathic concern. In Study 2, greater attachment anxiety also weakened the relationship between state curiosity and personal distress. These results suggest curiosity may be a way to promote compassion and willingness to help.


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