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“In a study that I had recently led, we investigated whether people's perceptions of taxes influenced how they felt about taxation. Past research has found that when people see how their help positively impacts others, they are more likely to help again. Results showed that taxpayers who recognized the positive impacts of their tax dollars on others had more positive perceptions of taxes, were more supportive of taxes, and contributed more in a tax-like payment. ⁣

Through this study, I could investigate whether recognition that you’re helping others predicts frequently disliked behaviour — paying taxes. I wanted to study this because I'm very interested in how we can promote prosocial behaviours, and I think it's especially important to understand how we may be able to improve attitudes about prosocial behaviour that many find aversive.”⁣

Emily Thornton is a fourth year PSYC Honours student who worked with Dr. Lara Aknin on a study investigating prosocial perceptions of taxation, which was recently published in PLOS ONE and featured on SFU News. Emily is currently the lab coordinator for Dr. Lara Aknin’s Helping and Happiness Lab and a research assistant in Dr. Marlene Moretti’s Adolescent Health Lab.

This post was originally posted on the SFU Psychology Instagram on May 20, 2020.