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Lecture 19

PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Public Goods Game, Daniel Batson, Social Exchange Theory


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 215
Professor
Mark Baldwin
Lecture
19

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Lecture 19 March 22nd
Prosocial Behaviour:
Why do we help?
- Why do we feel compelled to help people out in certain situations?
- Why did helping evolve?
- Are humans selfish or prosocial by nature?
- Does altruism really exist?
Prosocial Behaviour refers to any act performed with the goal of
benefitting another person.
Altruism refers to the desire to help others; even if it involves a cost to
the helper.
Evolutionary Psychology:
- Helping may have evolved via:
Kin Selection:
We would risk ourselves to help relatives survive since if
that relative survives some of the genes of the helper are
going to be passed on.
Research also shows that we are much more likely to help
out our family members than strangers.
Research Example:
o Individual nominates immediate and extended
family members
o Indicated emotional closeness to each person
o Presented with 2 family members in a hypothetical
helping scenario and indicated who they would
help
o Indicated feelings of obligation to help that person.
o Results: Found that emotional closeness and
obligation are more important factors in
determining willingness to help than a generic
relatedness. We’re more likely to help people that
we feel close to or people that we feel obligated to
help.
Reciprocity Norm:
The expectation that helping others will increase the
likelihood that they are going to help you in the future.
It is easier to survive if you live in a group that
cooperates than in a group where everyone is fending
for himself or herself.
Learning Social Norms:
People like other people who can follow the norms; the
greater chance you have to be accepted and liked by
other members of your group.
If you are accepted and liked by other people, this is
going to increase the likelihood that someone will help
you.
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- Evolutionary theory really centers on the belief that humans are
fundamentally selfish and that we act out on self-interest; I’m going
to help someone because I want to help myself.
- Constant debate: People are selfish by nature and behave prosocially
by exerting self control (fundamentally selfish) versus people are
cooperative by nature (fundamentally prosocial)
- Being lower on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may cause a person to be
more selfish.
Dual Processing Model of Decision Making:
- Intuition: automatic, effortless, lack of insight into reasons for
decision. Leads to fast decisions.
- Reflection: conscious thought-identifying possible actions, weighing
pros and cons, rational analysis. Leads to slower decisions.
- Rand et al (2012):
Participants played a public goods game
How much of your pay would you like to contribute to
a common pool?
Any money contributed was doubled and split evenly
among players.
Measured time it took to decide how much to contribute to the
common pool.
Selfish by nature hypothesis: cooperative decisions will be
slower
Prosocial by nature hypothesis: cooperative decisions will be
faster
In another study where people were forced to either make a
decision quickly make a decision slowly, or had no time
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constraint, replicated the finding that faster decisions are more
cooperative.
- Evidence for Intuitive prosociality from Extreme Altruists:
Carnegie Hero Medal Recipients (CHMR): extreme altruists who
risked their lives to save other
Collected interviews with CHMRs where they described their
decision to help.
Participants rated:
Intuitiveness/deliberativeness of the decision-making
process
How much time the CHMR had to act
Participants seem to rate the decisions as more intuitive than
deliberate.
CHMR ratings were strongly skewed towards intuitive, fast
decisions.
- Evidence from Developmental Research:
Intuitive behaviors emerge earlier in developmental than
reflective behaviors.
Prosocial behaviour emerges early in life, before
cognitive control has developed.
Children engage in spontaneous prosocial behaviour, eg:
Helping others in need
Offering others useful information
Helping others even if it’s costly
- Is cooperation innate?
Intuitive cooperation may be the result of social learning
Cooperation is advantageous in daily life.
Cooperation will only be intuitive if the person develops their
intuitions in daily-life settings where cooperation is
advantageous.
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