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Chapter 9.doc

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Jennifer Ostovich

Chapter 9: Altruism: helping others Altruism: a motive to increase another’s welfare without conscious regard for one’s self- interest WHY DO WE HELP? - helping benefits the giver as well as the receiver Social exchange - human interactions are transactions that aim to maximize one’s rewards and minimize one’s costs - it doesn’t mean that we consciously monitor costs and rewards, only that these considerations predict our behaviour - subtle calculations precede decisions to help or not - people will donate more money to a charity when offered a product, even when they don’t want the product Rewards - external or internal - external: businesses donate money to improve corporate image when someone offers another a ride hoping to receive appreciation give to get eager to help someone attractive to us, someone whose approval we desire - internal helping increases our sense of self worth feel good, self-satisfaction helping strangers, leaving tip - giving support boosted the giver’s mood in couples - students who engaged in community service developed social skills and positive social values (less risk for committing criminal offences, becoming pregnant, drop out, more likely to become engaged citizens) - volunteering  benefit health - is helping ever altruistic then? - Weakness of social exchange theory: it easily degenerates into explaining-by-name • Egoism: a motive (supposedly underlying all behaviour) to increase one’s own welfare. The opposite of altruism, which aims to increase another’s welfare • Must define rewards and costs independently of the helping behaviour • If social approval motivates helping, then we should find that when approval follows helping, helping increases (it does). Internal rewards - we feel distress when we’re near someone in distress (e.g. hear woman’s scream)  if we cannot reduce this arousal by interpreting the scream as a playful shriek  we will aid them to reduce our distress - Krebs: men whose physiological responses and self-reports revealed the most arousal in response to another’s distress  most help Guilt - guilt is a painful emotion which we want to relieve - people will do whatever can be done to expunge the guilt and restore their self image - expts have made subjects feel guilty through: lie, deliver shock, knock over a table of alphabetized cards, break a machine - David McMillen and James Austin (1971) • 2 subjects arrive at expt (course requirement)  a previous subject enters (confed) looking for his lost book  tells the subjects that the expt involves MC test of which answers are mostly B  experimenter arrives and explains the experiment, asking “have either of you been in this experiment before or heard anything about it? • 100% lied  after experiment, experimenter asks if they have some time to score some questionnaires  those who had not been induced to lie volunteered 2 minutes vs. 63 minutes - Eagerness to do good after bad reflects our need to reduce private guilt and restore our shaken self image and desire to reclaim a positive public image - More likely to redeem ourselves with helpful behaviour when other people know about our misdeeds - Regan (1972) • Led women to think they had broken a camera  confederate spills candy infront of them  4 times (15% x 4) women alerted the confederate to the spill • Relief from private guilt feelings  redeem self image - Guilt  motivation for confession, apoligize, helping, avoid repeated harm  sustains relationships - Helpful deed reduces negative mood Exceptions to the feel bad-do good scenario - can’t always expect to find the “feel bad do good” phemnomenon - negative mood, depression, profound grief  exceptions (self-preoccupation, diffult to be giving) - Thompson, Cowan & Rosenhan (1980) • Stanford university students privately listened to a taped description of a person (“best friend”) dying of cancer • Focused some subjects’ attention on their own worry and grief (you would..) vs. focused attention on the friend (he is..) vs. control • Both groups were profoundly moved and sobered • After: given a chance to help graduate student with research: 25% whose attention had been self-focused helped, 83% whose attention was other- focused helped • The other-focused participants found helping especially rewarding - if not self-preoccupied by depression or grief, sad people are sensitive, helpful people • feel bad-do good effect occurs when people whose attention is on others, people for whom altruism is therefore rewarding Feel good, do good - happy people are helpful people - e.g. women who feel in love felt so happy that he was helping even her “enemy” at work - Dolinski & Nawrat • Positive mood of relief can dramatically boost helping • Subjects had their car parked illegally • Some had a “ticket” placed on their windshield wiper vs. didn’t • Subjects then realized that the ticket was actually a flier • Moments later a university student approaches and asks whether they would be willing to spend 15min answering questions for his thesis • 62% of those whose fears had just been relieved were willing to help (2 times as likely) - Isen, Clark, Schwartz • Received free stationary vs. not (0-20 minutes before confed calls) • A confederate who had spent her last dim on a wrong number, called and asked them to relay the phone message • Willingness to help rose from 0-5 minutes, and then good mood wore off and helpfulness dropped - Helping sustains a good mood  positive thoughts and positive self esteem  positive behaviour (positive associations with being helpful) - Positive thinkers  positive actors Social norms - norms are social expectations, prescribes proper behaviour, the “oughts” of our lives - we ought to help a new neighbour move in, we ought to return the wallet we found - reciprocity norm and social-responsibility norm The reciprocity norm - an expectation that people will help, not to hurt, those who have helped them - to receive w/o giving in return violates the reciprocity norm - reciprocity within social networks help define the “social capital”- the supportive connections, information flow, trust, cooperative actions - more university students willingly made a pledge to the charity of someone who had previously bought them some candy - when people cannot reciprocate, they feel threatened and demeaned by accepting aids • high self-esteem people are often reluctant to seek help • receiving unsolicited help  lowers self esteem Social-responsibility norm - an expectation that people will help those dependent upon them - helping without regard to future exchanges - motivates us to help someone pick up their book when they’re on crutches - is supported more by collectivist culture (e.g. India) than the individualist West - we apply this norm selectively, and help who we believe deserves it • responses closely tied to attributions • if we attribute the need to an uncontrollable predicament  help (e.g. victims of natural disasters) • if we attribute the need to the person’s choices  fairness doesn’t require us to help  it’s their own fault (e.g. because they were lazy, immoral) • Rudolph (2004): if attributions evoke sympathy  motivates helping - Social responsibility norm compels us to help those most in need and those most deserving - E.g. “Tony Freeman” asking first year psych students for notes because “he just can’t seem to be able to take good notes” vs. explaining his troubles which were beyond his control Evolutionary psychology - essence of life is gene survival - The Selfish Gene- genes that predispose individuals to selflessly promote strangers’ welfare would not survive in the evolutionary competition - Genetic selfishness should predispose us to 2 types of selfless or self-sacrificial altruism: kin protection & reciprocity Kin protection - one form of self sacrifice that would increase gene survival: devotion to one’s children - put children ahead: more likely to pass genes on - children have less at stake in the survival of their parents’ genes, thus parents are devoted to their children than their children are to them - kin selection: the idea that evolution has selected altruism toward one’s close relatives to enhance the survival of mutually shared genes • relatives share genes in proportion to their biological closeness • favouritism toward those who share our genes - genetically identical twins are noticeably more mutually supportive (vs. fraternal) • in lab: more likely to cooperate with twin for shared gain when playing for money - Haldane: wouldn’t give up his life for his brother, but would sacrifice for 3 brothers, or 9 cousins - Note: not that we calculate genetic relatedness before helping, but that nature programs us to care about close relatives - Carnegie medal is seldom awarded to those who save an immediate family member • Carlos Rogers (NBA player) ended career to donate kidney to his sister  not totally unexpected vs. Everett Sanderson who risked himself to save a stranger in the subway - There are common genes besides family • E.g. blue eyes  cues from physical similarities • evolutionary history genes shared more with neighbours than with foreigners • ethnic ingroup favourtism - act more altruistically to those similar to us and those who live near us? - Order of who gets help in aftermath of natural disasters is therefore not surprising: young  old, family members  friends, neighbours  strangers - Helping stays close to home Reciprocity - genetic self interest also predicts reciprocity - giver expects to be getter later (failure to reciprocate  punished- cheat, traitor) - reciprocity works best in small, isolated groups: see people for whom one does favours - hungry bat asks donor for food (only occurs in familiar nest-mates who share in the give and take) take and never give  no friends - reciprocity is stronger in remote Cook Islands than in NYC • big cities less willing to relay phone message, mail lost letters, less cooperative with surveys - small school, towns, churches, teams, dorms  care for reach other - if individual self-interest wins in genetic competition, why does nonreciprocal altruism toward strangers occur? • Darwin: group selection- groups of altruists survive better than groups of nonaltruists o Evident in animals, not so much in humans (less ingroup loyalty) o Bees and ants labour sacrificially for colony’s survival • Campbell: human societies evolved ethical and religious rules that serve as brakes on the biological bias toward self-interest o “love your neighbour” commandments admonish us to balance self-concern with concern for the group o Dawkins: try to teach generosity and altruism because we are born selfish Comparing and evaluating theories of altruism - Each proposes two types of prosocial behaviour: reciprocal exchange and more unconditional helpfulness How is altruism explained? Theory Level of Mutual Intrinsic explanation “altruism” altruism Social norms Sociology Reciprocity Social- norm responsibility norm Social exchange Psychological External Distress  inner rewards for rewards for helping helping Evolutionary Biological Reciprocity Kin selection - each theory’s task is to generate predictions that enable us to test it - each offers a broad perspective from which we can understand both enduring commitments and spontaneous help Genuine altruism - are we ever purely motivated by the ultimate goal of selfless concern for others? Or is our ultimate goal always some form of self-benefit (e.g. relief from distress, avoidance of guilt)? - Rohan Wilson who risked his life to save a pregnant women and 3 children • Selfless act of concern? Or did he help because he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself it he did not? - John Cleghorn (CEO of Royal Bank) gave 25 million to charity • “the line between marketing and philanthropic activities has become increasingly blurred” - Until recently, psychologists generally argue that self-interest is behind most instances of helping - Daniel Batson: it’s both- self serving + selfless considerations • Distress over someone’s suffering motivates us to relieve our upset  escaping distressing situation or by helping • When we feel attached to someone, we feel empathy (the vicarious experience of another’s feeling; putting oneself in another’s shoe)  parents suffer when children suffer, empathy for those we identify with (e.g. princess Diana vs. Rwanda vitims) • Feeling empathy: focus on sufferer (genuine empathy motivates us to help) • A baby’s crying can evoke a chorus of crying - Distress + empathy motivates response • Those who watched news about bushfire in Australia • Those who felt distressed or empathic  donated more generously than those who angry/indifferent • Young children reported feeling sorry when others were picked on, and after watching a video of a burned girl  most generous when given a chance to contribute some of their research earnings to a children’s burn unit - Separate egoistic distress reduction from altruistic empathy Arouse empathy  reduce distress by running away vs. go aid person If empathy aroused  help Batson (1981) o Told women that victim was a kindred spirit on matters of values and interests vs. observation is the subjects only task o Had a women (subject) observe young women suffering from “shocks” o Expt paused, and the victim said that a childhood fall against an electric fence left her acutely sensitive to shocks o Experimenter suggested that perhaps observer might trade spaces and take th e shocks o All students willingly offered to substituted for the victim - Pure altruism? Schaller & Cialdini did not agree o Feeling sympathy  sadness o If people believe that their sadness is going to be r
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