Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Theses

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    Attention Orienting in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Li, Shuting ( 2022)
    Attention orienting determines where we focus our concentration, which affects the information we process and our ability to interact with others. Atypical attention orienting is associated with some autistic behaviours. Experimental studies examining attention orienting in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), however, have reported inconsistent results. These unresolved experimental results lead to several questions. Is attention orienting atypical in ASD? What are the factors that contribute to atypical attention orienting in ASD? Does ASD alter neural circuitry implicated in attention orienting? The current thesis investigated attention orienting in ASD using a cross-disciplinary approach that combined human and animal investigative methods. The first study systematically reviewed the experimental literature using the Posner task to assess attention orienting in people with ASD. The results demonstrated a heterogeneous manifestation of attention orienting in people with ASD across different experimental settings and highlighted a biased focus on males and children. The second study examined exogenous (i.e., stimulus-driven) and endogenous (i.e., goal-driven) orienting in people with ASD using the Posner task with consideration of several potential confounders (alertness, co-occurring symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, age, and sex). Participants with ASD demonstrated quicker automatic shift of attention and slower voluntary disengagement of attention. We proposed that attention orienting in people with ASD is superior when attention is captured externally and inefficient when attention is controlled internally. Additionally, atypical attention orienting in ASD was found to be associated with age and co-occurring ADHD and anxiety symptoms, but not with alertness and sex. To investigate the consequences of genetic and pharmacological manipulations on cognition, the mouse model has emerged as a powerful tool. There does not, however, exist a well-established assessment of attention orienting in mice. The third study reverse-translated the human Posner task for use in mice using touchscreen technology. Consistent with human performance, mice responded more quickly and more accurately to validly compared to invalidly cued targets in both the exogenous and endogenous tasks, supporting the validity of the mouse Posner (mPosner) task. The effects of two dopaminergic- and noradrenergic-modulating drugs, methylphenidate and atomoxetine, were also examined. The results showed no significant effects of these two drugs on attention orienting, although methylphenidate improved response times during the exogenous orienting task. Following the development of the mPosner task, the fourth study examined attention orienting in mice carrying an ASD-associated neuroligin-3 (NL3)R451C genetic mutation and their responses to methylphenidate and atomoxetine treatment. NL3R451C mice demonstrated intact attention orienting. These mice, however, were more responsive to methylphenidate and less responsive to atomoxetine compared to wild-type mice. These findings suggest that the NL3R451C mutation is associated with disruptions of the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems, motivating further clarification of the role of this mutation in specific dopaminergic and noradrenergic circuits. In sum, this research enhanced our understanding of attention orienting in people with ASD and created a novel translatable task to facilitate collaboration between human- and animal-focused researchers in investigating the neural mechanisms of attention in ASD.
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    Prediction and neural transmission delays in visual motion processing
    Blom, Tessel Maria ( 2022)
    Neural transmission takes time. Although this delay is seemingly insignificant (approximately 70 ms), it complicates the real-time localization of moving objects because the brain has no access to information about where the object is now. In this thesis, we study how prediction, and motion extrapolation in particular, can help overcome these neural transmission delays in visual motion processing. For motion extrapolation mechanisms to do this, they need to be able to drive sensory representations in the absence of sensory information, since sensory information arrives on a delayed time-line. In Study 1, we find that sensory representations corresponding to the anticipated next location on a motion trajectory are pre-activated before the anticipated stimulus onset and the arrival of sensory information. Correspondingly, in Study 2, we find that moving objects are subsequently represented with a shorter latency. To explain these findings, we outline a neural architecture of horizontal and feedback connections inducing pre-activations at anticipated stimulus locations that fits within the current dominant framework of cortical organization. The consequence of such an architecture however is that, when a moving object diverges from its predictable trajectory, the wrong stimulus location has been pre-activated. We show that, faced with a motion prediction violation, the brain indeed briefly represents the object in the anticipated but never presented stimulus location, resulting in a latency disadvantage for the representation of the mispredicted stimulus. In Study 3 we finally demonstrate that the overextrapolation is actively corrected for, preventing the conscious percept of the stimulus in the overextrapolated location.
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    A Comparative Analysis of the Techniques and Experiences in Meditation Practices Aiming for Contentless States
    Woods, Toby Jordan ( 2022)
    Numerous meditation practices aim for contentless experience, in which mental content such as thought, perception, and mental imagery is absent. This experience is often treated as pure consciousness or consciousness itself, and it is therefore of great interest in cognitive science and philosophy. The classical academic understanding is that contentless experiences have no (or virtually no) content and are therefore identical. However, there has been little empirical investigation of contentless experiences in meditation, or the techniques and states that form the paths to those experiences. This thesis addresses that gap by way of four empirical papers. The first three papers focus on Shamatha, Transcendental, and Stillness Meditation, and use a text-based scientific method known as evidence synthesis. The first presents a form of evidence synthesis designed specifically for analysis of expert texts on meditation. This is used to generate a 194 page database containing textual material extracted from 135 expert publications from within the meditation traditions. Silence is a central feature of contentless experience in each practice, and the first paper analyzes that feature based on the expert material. The second paper identifies and describes all of the features of contentless experience reported or implied by the experts, and examines whether the experiences across the practices are the same or different with respect to each feature. The third paper describes the paths to contentless experience based on the expert accounts, and compares them across the practices on key dimensions. The fourth paper again examines Shamatha and Stillness Meditation, but includes Thai Forest (rather than Transcendental) Meditation as a third practice and uses a participant-based method. In this study, over 250 meditators who attended specific retreats or classes completed a questionnaire about their experiences in meditation over a 7 to 10 day period. The study examines whether meditators report contentless experiences, and whether there are differences in the experiences reported across practices. In both the text-based and participant-based work, a major finding is that numerous forms of abstract content, including wakefulness, naturalness, calm, bliss/joy, and freedom, are reported as being present in so-called contentless experiences, and that the reported experiences differ across traditions. These findings challenge the classical academic understanding. The main differences in the practices identified from the empirical work are that: the paths in Shamatha and Thai Forest involve systematic development of highly focused attention whereas those in TM and Stillness Meditation do not; and the contentless experiences in Shamatha and Thai Forest involve greater attentional focus, stability and vividness, but accessing them is much slower, more difficult, and less frequent. In addition to challenging the classical understanding in the field of consciousness studies, the findings have important implications for taxonomies of meditation, neuroscientific and clinical research/practice, and researchers and practitioners wishing to understand the meditation practices at a more general level. The work provides a robust foundation for future studies examining contentless experience or the paths to that experience in other practices or using alternative methods. By pioneering a new form of meditation research (evidence synthesis of traditional texts) it opens the way to a more complete, systematic, and transparent integration of traditional understandings into contemplative science than has been possible before.
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    An investigation of family-centred service in the rehabilitation of paediatric acquired brain injury
    Jenkin, Taylor Rae ( 2022)
    Paediatric acquired brain injury (ABI) can have significant impacts on children, adolescents, and their families. Family-centred service is considered best practice in paediatric rehabilitation and emphasises the importance of supporting families and involving them in care planning, implementation, and evaluation. However, there are varied definitions and approaches to delivering family-centred service, family needs are often unrecognised and unmet in rehabilitation, and there is a lack of research evidence informed by the lived experience of families. The aim of this program of research was to develop a better understanding of family-centred service within paediatric ABI rehabilitation. The first part of this project was a scoping review of programs involving the families of children/adolescents with ABI. Information about the programs was synthesised to develop an understanding of how families are involved in ABI rehabilitation programs. The second part of this project explored subjective experiences of family-centred rehabilitation from the perspectives of children and adolescents with ABI, their families, and rehabilitation clinicians. Two qualitative studies were conducted in the context of a state-wide paediatric rehabilitation service. Across the two studies, thirteen rehabilitation clinicians, ten parents/caregivers, five siblings, and four children/adolescents with ABI participated in semi- structured interviews, and data were analysed using constructivist grounded theory methods. The findings yielded three manuscripts, one of which has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, with the remaining two submitted to journals and currently under review. Collaboration between clinicians and families during rehabilitation was identified as central to family-centred service, with participants reflecting on how this collaboration changes over time. The importance of clinicians developing an understanding of families and their unique lives following paediatric ABI was highlighted, as was the value of hearing children’s and adolescents’ voices during rehabilitation. The key role of clinicians was also emphasised, and participants recognised that the implementation of family-centred service requires active input and facilitation from clinicians. The findings contribute novel insights into family-centred service within paediatric ABI rehabilitation, with practice recommendations to support the implementation of this approach in practice. Keywords:
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    Characterising Sleep in Young People with Borderline Personality Disorder
    Jenkins, Claire Anne ( 2021)
    Background. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) features typically have their clinical onset during adolescence and early adulthood, coinciding with normative developmental changes to sleep quality and sleep-wake patterns. Sleep disturbances are commonly reported by individuals with BPD features and are independently associated with a range of adverse outcomes. Yet, few studies have investigated sleep in young people with BPD. Aims. This thesis consists of five studies. Study 1 was a scoping review that mapped the existing literature, highlighted areas for further investigation, and provided methodological recommendations for future research. Study 2 assessed inter-device reliability between two actigraphs (Actiwatch-2 and GENEActiv). This was an essential methodological step in this research program because it allowed actigraphy-derived sleep parameters to be reliably compared across BPD and clinical comparison groups, despite different actigraphs having been used. Studies 3-5 addressed the overarching aim of this thesis: to characterise sleep in young people with BPD features. This involved investigating whether subjective and objective (actigraphy) sleep patterns were non-normative and/or specific to BPD (Study 3), exploring the mechanisms underlying sleep disturbance (Study 4), and assessing the feasibility of using polysomnography in this population and providing pilot data (Study 5). Method. Participants in studies 3 and 4 were 96 young people aged 15-25 years (M = 20.02, SD = 2.62). This included 40 with 3 or more BPD features, 38 healthy individuals, and 18 young people seeking help for non-BPD psychopathology. Sleep was assessed subjectively (self- report questionnaires) and objectively (10 days wrist actigraphy). In study 5, a subset of participants (7 with BPD features, 6 healthy individuals) completed overnight polysomnography monitoring. Results. Young people with BPD features reported poorer sleep quality, more severe insomnia and later chronotype than healthy and clinical comparison groups. Impulse control difficulties, limited access to emotion regulation strategies and anxiety indirectly affected the relationship between BPD features and subjective sleep disturbances. Actigraphy data revealed that young people with BPD features had irregular sleep timing, later rise times, greater time in bed, and longer sleep durations compared with healthy young people. Additionally, individuals with BPD features displayed superior sleep quality (greater sleep efficiency, less wake after sleep onset) and slept longer than the clinical comparison group. Anxiety and lack of emotional awareness indirectly affected the association between BPD features and actigraphy-assessed bedtime variability and longer time in bed, respectively. The feasibility of in-home and sleep laboratory-based polysomnography were both demonstrated. Pilot polysomnography data indicated that individuals with BPD features had fewer arousals from sleep than healthy young people, but displayed an otherwise comparable sleep profile. Conclusion. Young people with BPD features reported sleep disturbances beyond the normative changes found during this developmental period and beyond those reported by young people seeking help for non-BPD psychopathology. Although a subjective-objective sleep discrepancy was revealed, subjective sleep disturbances alone reflect sleep-related distress and thus warrant clinical attention. Sleep-improvement interventions should be investigated as possible beneficial adjuncts to current early interventions for young people with BPD features to improve subjective sleep, quality of life, and potentially promote broader symptomatic and functional recovery.
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    Empathy during childhood; an investigation of associations with anxiety and depressive symptoms, and brain structure and function
    Bray, Katherine Olivia ( 2021)
    This thesis investigated the associations between empathy and internalising (i.e., depressive and anxiety) symptoms, and the underlying structural, and functional connectivity neural correlates of empathy in late childhood. Background: Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of others’ emotions, is a multidimensional construct, and includes cognitive and affective components. Empathy is important for social functioning, and alterations in empathy have been demonstrated in many developmental/psychiatric disorders. Studies in adults have demonstrated that both cognitive and affective empathy are associated with internalising symptoms. Studies in adults have also examined the neural underpinnings of empathy, implicating two major functional brain networks: the Default Mode Network (DMN) has been implicated in cognitive empathy, while the Salience Network (SN) has been implicated in affective empathy. These findings have mostly resulted from investigating brain activity during empathy tasks (i.e., in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging [fMRI] studies). Less research has examined the associations between trait empathy, and brain structure or intrinsic functional connectivity. Few studies have investigated these associations between empathy and either internalising symptoms or the neural correlates in young people, particularly children. Investigating associations between empathy, mental health, and brain structure and function during childhood is beneficial to begin to build a comprehensive picture of the development of empathy components and the neural correlates of empathy across the lifespan. Based on previous research in adults and preliminary work in children, we hypothesised that higher levels of empathic distress and lower levels of cognitive empathy would be associated with higher depressive and anxiety symptoms (particularly social anxiety symptoms). We also hypothesised that children’s cognitive and affective empathy would be associated with individual differences in brain structure and function within areas related to the DMN and the SN, respectively. Methods: Participants were 9- and 10-year-old children, a subset from the second wave of the Families and Childhood Transitions Study (FACTS), a longitudinal, community-based cohort study. Sample size across the empirical chapters of the thesis differed depending on measures completed and quality of brain images (study 1 n =127, study 2 n = 125, study 3 n = 112). Self-report measures of empathy (cognitive empathy, affective empathy: affective sharing, empathic concern, empathic distress) and internalising (anxiety and depressive) symptoms were administered, as well as a task-based measure of cognitive empathy. To investigate associations between empathy and internalising symptoms (study 1), canonical correlation analysis (CCA), a multivariate technique, was employed. Participants underwent MRI of the brain where T1-weighted structural images and resting-state functional sequences were collected. Grey matter volume, cortical thickness (study 2), seed-to-whole-brain and dual regression resting-state functional connectivity (study 3) were examined. Results: Study 1: CCA demonstrated that components of affective empathy, specifically affective sharing and empathic distress, were associated with internalising (particularly social anxiety) symptoms. Cognitive empathy was not associated with internalising symptoms. Study 2: In region of interest analyses, individual differences in affective and cognitive empathy were related to grey matter volume in the insula and the precuneus. Although these associations were of similar strength to those found in previous research, they did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. While no associations were detected between grey matter volume and empathy in exploratory whole-brain analysis, associations were found between empathic concern and cortical thickness in the right precentral gyrus. Study 3: Seed-to-whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity analyses demonstrated that both affective sharing and empathic distress were associated with decreased connectivity between key hubs of the DMN (precuneus and temporal parietal junction) and other widespread areas in the brain. Analyses of resting-state networks demonstrated that cognitive empathy was associated with both increased and decreased connectivity between dorsal and lateral regions of the DMN and regions outside of the DMN, including the pre- and postcentral gyrus, and the cerebellum. Affective empathy was associated with increased connectivity between the anterior SN and the pre- and postcentral gyrus. These relationships did not survive strict correction for multiple comparisons. Conclusions: Findings suggested that children who share others’ emotions strongly are more likely to experience anxiety, particularly of a social nature. This study also provided preliminary evidence that individual differences in self-reported empathy in children may be related to certain aspects of brain structure and functional connectivity. Overall, we observed less clear dissociations between the neural correlates of affective versus cognitive empathy, and more widely spread involvement from other brain areas. This potentially indicates reduced maturation and specialisation of the systems underlying affective versus cognitive empathy in this age group. However, more research is required to demonstrate reproducibility of the findings. More research investigating the mental health associations and neurobiological correlates of empathy in children is needed, particularly of a longitudinal nature, to track these changes across development. One limitation of our study is that the majority of our findings were based around self-report measures of empathy, which may not accurately reflect empathic ability.
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    The influence of aesthetic judgements on attributions of moral standing
    Klebl, Christoph Michael Josef ( 2021)
    Beauty and ugliness judgements are everyday psychological phenomena; however, the function of aesthetic judgements is not yet well understood. In the present thesis, I propose that aesthetic judgements influence the degree to which targets are viewed as possessing moral standing (i.e., are worthy of protection for their own sake). Furthermore, the present thesis sought to identify one psychological mechanism through which aesthetic judgements influence moral standing attributions: beauty and ugliness judgements may affect moral standing attributions through processes aligned with the disease-avoidance system. Chapter 2, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science (five studies; N = 1,552), found that ugliness judgements are closely associated with the disease-avoidance system (over and above general negative affect): ugly faces, animals and buildings were found to elicit the emotion of disgust, and pathogen cues were found to evoke ugliness judgements. Investigating the implications of these findings for person perception, Chapter 3 (four studies accepted at Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; N = 1,778) revealed that physical attractiveness particularly biases moral character judgements pertaining to the moral domain of purity—a domain particularly relevant to the disease-avoidance system. Specifically, these studies found that unattractive individuals were judged as more likely to engage in purity violations (i.e., acts that are associated with pathogen threat) than attractive individuals, and that this effect was stronger than for judgements of harm violations. Across six studies, Chapter 4 (published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; N = 1,662), tested the main prediction of the thesis, revealing that people attributed more moral standing to beautiful than ugly sentient entities (i.e., animals and people) and non-sentient entities (i.e., landscapes and buildings). This effect was consistently mediated by perceptions of purity, suggesting that perceptions of purity are a psychological mechanism through which beauty signals the moral standing of targets. Building on these findings, Chapter 5 (two studies published in Journal of Environmental Psychology; N = 942) investigated whether the effect of aesthetic judgements on moral standing attributions is independent from other qualities that have been previously linked to moral standing. As predicted, people attributed more moral standing to beautiful than to ugly animals, independent of from the degree to which the animals were perceived to have mental capacities and dispositions to cause harm, as well as the degree to which they were judged to be familiar, similar to humans, and edible. In summary, the present thesis shows that aesthetic judgements influence the degree to which people attribute moral standing to targets, independently from other factors likely to affect moral standing. That is, people perceive beautiful entities as more worthy of protection for their own sake than ugly entities. It also demonstrates—based on key findings that aesthetic judgements are closely linked to the disease-avoidance system—that purity judgements are the psychological mechanism through which people attribute more moral standing to beautiful (vs. ugly) targets.
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    Fear of Positive Evaluation and Core Beliefs in Social Anxiety
    Cook, Sarina Isobelle ( 2021)
    Social Anxiety Disorder is characterised by feelings of distress and avoidance of socially evaluative situations. It has long been theorised in cognitive-behavioural research that core beliefs and thinking patterns related to fear of negative evaluation result in symptoms of social anxiety, with fear of negative evaluation thought of as a selected evolutionarily sensitivity to the threats posed by social rejection. More recently however, evolutionary models have focused on the fear of positive evaluation as a sensitivity to the threats posed by social competition. Cognitive models that focus on fear of negative evaluation theorise that socially anxious individuals perceive a high standard that they lack the skills to reach, resulting in fear of negative evaluation, and the desire to avoid the situation that risks rejection. While this is well-developed and established, the cognitive theories related to fear of positive evaluation are less developed, with a focus on disqualifying positive social outcomes to avoid the perceived threat of competition. To date, no comprehensive model has been developed, however. There remain inconsistencies within the literature, with some fear of negative evaluation models suggesting that socially anxious individuals seek positive evaluation, while others suggest that positive evaluation is feared. It remains unclear whether fear of positive evaluation is a unique component of social anxiety or merely an anticipation of future negative evaluation. To address the question of whether fear of positive evaluation is distinct from fear of negative evaluation, a systematic search and meta-analysis of 147 papers since 2008 was undertaken. The results suggested that fear of positive evaluation was moderately correlated with social anxiety symptoms, explained 6-9% of unique social anxiety variance beyond fear of negative evaluation, and was also reported more by socially anxious individuals relative to healthy comparison individuals. It was concluded that fear of positive evaluation plays a unique and important role in social anxiety. Building upon the finding that fear of positive evaluation plays a unique role, a model of social anxiety symptoms was developed to test it was then tested whether the core beliefs underlying fear of negative evaluation, such as high standards, explain similar or a different amount of variance relative to fear of negative evaluation in. The results suggested that high standards, while explaining some variance in fear of negative evaluation, did not relate to fear of positive evaluation and explained considerably less variance. It was concluded that core beliefs differ between the fears of evaluation and that a measure of core beliefs for fear of positive evaluation was needed. The final study developed and validated the Positive Evaluation Core beliefs Scale, a measure of core beliefs related to fear of positive evaluation with robust psychometric properties. Testing several core belief measures, it was found that fear of negative evaluation was best predicted by high standards and a preoccupation with social rank, whereas fear of positive evaluation was best predicted by hiding one’s talents, expecting pressure to perform, and hiding one’s authentic self. It was concluded that fears of positive and negative evaluation were associated with separate sets of core beliefs. The results of this thesis make a significant and important contribution to the literature by confirming the unique role of fear of positive evaluation in social anxiety, and by exploring the unique belief systems associated with each fear of evaluation. This has implications for both research and clinical practice in terms of offering insights into the hitherto less-well developed fear of evaluation to help enhance and further develop the cognitive-behavioural framework for social anxiety disorder.
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    Helping others has an existential function: The relationship between prosociality and meaning in life
    Dakin, Brodie ( 2021)
    Meaning in life is a core aspect of psychological well-being. For this reason, finding meaning is highly desired, and identifying the practices that enable the experience of meaning is an important avenue of research. In this thesis, I sought to unpack how prosociality is relevant to meaning in life, including how prosociality is related to experiencing meaning (Chapters II and III), and how searching for meaning is related to prosociality (Chapters IV and V). In Chapter II, I completed a systematic review of the prosociality—meaning relationship and found that prosociality and meaning are generally positively related in the existing empirical literature. Chapter III extended this with two daily diary studies (Studies 1-2) examining how prosociality in everyday life was related to experiencing meaning and happiness. Study 1 found that within-person increases in subjective prosociality were associated with experiencing greater meaning and happiness on the same day. Study 2 found that self-reported prosocial acts were also significantly associated with increases in daily meaning, but were less robustly associated with happiness. Results from Chapters II and III complement findings from a growing literature suggesting that prosociality is a robust ‘source of meaning’ in life. In Chapter III (Studies 3-7), I extended from this premise and examined whether searching for meaning is linked with prosociality, particularly for prosocial acts that are costly for the self. Across these studies, searching for meaning was positively related to the motivation to perform costly prosocial behaviours, and to reporting enactment of costly prosocial behaviours in the recent past. Meaning-seekers were also shown to have stronger intentions toward costlier prosocial acts compared to less-costly alternatives (Studies 5-6). Further, it was found that, unlike meaning-seeking, pursuing happiness was not clearly linked with costly prosociality (Studies 4-5). Finally, in Chapter V, I re-analysed data from Study 2 using a daily search for meaning measure, and showed that on days when a person experiences an increased need to seek meaning, they become more likely to perform a prosocial act. In summary, the thesis’ findings suggest that performing prosocial actions is associated with experiencing greater meaning in life, and that searching for meaning is linked to prosocial behaviour, particularly when costly for the self.
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    Moral, yet more than agreeable: The enlightened tendencies of open people
    Lawn, Erin Carol Rose ( 2021)
    Openness/Intellect is a basic personality trait describing the tendency to be curious and imaginative. Although these cognitive exploration tendencies are not inherently other-regarding, and open people are not disposed toward prosociality in general, Openness/Intellect has at least some important but underappreciated prosocial correlates (e.g., Parks-Leduc, Feldman, & Bardi, 2014; Sibley & Duckitt, 2008; Soutter, Bates, & Mottus, 2020), suggesting the potential moral significance of this trait may have been overlooked. In this thesis, I aimed to clarify whether and in what ways Openness/Intellect is a morally significant personality trait through assessing its associations with specific forms of prosociality that are likely to benefit from cognitive exploration proclivities. In Stream One, I explored (Study 1; N = 119) then sought to confirm (Studies 2-4; combined N = 987) an ostensible association between Openness/Intellect and cooperative behaviour, a major subtype of prosociality that involves coordinating with others toward mutual goals. Cooperativeness was operationalised using the Public Goods Game, a behavioural paradigm that strips cooperation to its elementary components. Despite finding a sizeable correlation in my exploratory study, Openness/Intellect shared only a very modest (though nonnull) correlation with cooperative behaviour across my confirmatory studies, suggesting open people are not meaningfully disposed toward cooperativeness in its most elementary form. After introducing the concept of moral exceptionality, in Stream Two (Studies 1-3; combined N = 3,003) I turned to the question of whether Openness/Intellect—in combination with the more explicitly prosocial trait Agreeableness—can account for individual differences in the tendency to show regard for others in ways that are flexible and inclusive (vs. rigid or parochial). Results revealed that such morally exceptional expressions of prosociality can be summarised and measured as a trait—enlightened compassion—that correlates strongly with Openness (an aspect of Openness/Intellect) as well as Compassion (an aspect of Agreeableness), thereby constituting an interstitial facet of the Openness/Intellect and Agreeableness domains. Together, the results from Streams One and Two suggest that although Openness/Intellect is not robustly associated with more elementary expressions of prosocial behaviour, open people are likely to think, feel, and desire in more prosocial ways under circumstances that involve transcending the boundaries of parochialism. To the extent that this enlightened compassionate orientation translates into actual behaviour, open people can be said to exhibit a kind of moral exceptionality.