Helping and Aggression
Why (and whom) do people help?
• Prosocial Behavior (helping, altruistic acts, favor): Actions intended to benefit others. Could be simple
favor or just jumping into the river to save someone.
• Evolutionary factors in helping: the people that we want to help the most are the people that we want to
share the genes with somehow.
• Inclusive Fitness: Natural selection favors characteristics that cause an organism’s genes to be passed on,
regardless of whether the orgasms produce offspring’s directly (i.e. people that are related to us by blood.
Brother, sister, parents, nieces and so on. Thus helping is related with genes.)
• Kin Selection: Preferential helping of genetic relatives, which results in the greater likelihood that genes
held in common, will survive.
• Kin selection=inclusive fitness almost.
Genetic relatedness among different type of relationship:
• Monozygotic (100% because the same egg split into to after being fertilized)
• Dizygotic: two eggs that are fertilized at the same time by two different sperms (50% related)
• Parents + children: 50%
• Sibling: grandparents: 25%
• Uncle and niece AND half siblings: 25%
• Both share the same grandparent àfirst cousin
• Both share the great grandparent àsecond cousin.
Inclusive Fitness, Kin Selection and Hamilton’s Rule
• Not all relatives are created equal.
• Selection will often favor the evolution of mechanisms to help close kin more than distance kin and
distance kin more than stranger (no genetic relatedness with us) (2* likely to help outself then our
sibling▯2*likely to help sibling over a half sibling/neice/nephew (25%))
• Hamilton’s Rule: Natural selection favors mechanisms for altruism when C 1 thus it is greater then 1 and we would do it)
– First cousin= 9*0.125>1
Kin Selection and Helping in Animals and Humans
• 1) In ground squirrels, full sisters are far more likely to cooperate in the mutual defense of young (the
animal can recognize the different and thus 0.5 is much more better then half sibling)
• 2) When they do the alarm, it will make their life in danger since it makes them visible. But they still do it.
The key ingredient in making the call if there is a KIN (any genes relations not just offspring) in the vicinity
of the females.
• Females give alarm calls (when there is a terrestrial predator) more often than male approximately 21%
more often. (the female squirrel never leaves the kin. When the male mature, they leave the group and go to
a group to which they do not share the genes with. Male will only make the voice when there is offspring
• Research had participants hold a difficult position with their legs. The longer you hold this pause, the more
money we will give you. Then you can give this money to relative. They hypothesize that if this relative was more related in the genes▯you will hold this position more even if there is more pain▯more
money▯more helping the kin.
• Results: if sibling▯the most holding the pause. This was higher then the half sibling (half sibling=same as
• Another study: highrisk situation▯the genetic relationship is the biggest predictor of who you going to save.
• Result did show that. Altruism is higher (highest for sibling, half sibling in the middle, and then the friend a
bit lower) when the high risk (save someone from burning building). Consistent with inclusive fit and kin
The Theory of Reciprocal Altruism
• States that adaptations for providing benefits to nonrelatives can evolve as long as the delivery of such
benefits is reciprocated at some point in the future (cost and benefits will equal out over the long run)
• Example: The bee gets the nectar and the flower gets pollen. Human hunter will share with another non
relative group▯may be in the near future, this person might share his next time. One can say that this is hard
wired in our genes. There is NO known culture that does not operate on reciprocity (it is ubiquitous and
exists in all culture=universal=high external validity=adaptation)
• If Chimps that do not reciprocate ( in humans we think they are selfish, cheaters etc) are met with a lot of
anger, social exclusion from the group.
Social psychological perspective
Rewards of Helping:
• It increases our selfesteem whenever we help other. Especially if the culture advocates it.
• Research has documented that there are positive correlations between mental health and helping behaviors.
• Post 9/11: those that helped ▯ showed less distress about their situation.
• The more people volunteer with different organization▯increase mental health,
• Empathetic Joy : The pleasure one has at seeing another person experience a relief (when we see someone
in pain, we feel their pain. When they get rid of this ( you become happy when they are happy)
• Empathy: we don’t have to be concerned but as long as we are experiencing the same feeling as them.
Sympathy: concerns for another person that suffering.
• The Negative State Relief Model: The proposition that people help others in order counteract their own
feeling of sadness ( when we are in bad mood, we are more likely to help others which elevates our mood)
• Positive mood: you are also more likely to help other to keep that good mood going.
• Research: confederate goes into a clothing store. The confederate said three things. Positive (I love your
store, you guys did amazing job) vs negative ( I guys did worse job here) vs. neutral ( did not matter) ▯ now
a different confederate came in and would ask for something that did not exist ( but the clerks were all
• Results: the people that are put in the positive mood work significantly higher in trying to find the item. In
this cases, negative mood did not? What is this even though based on the above model it should.
• Where the negative mood originates is biggest predictor of whether or not you will do it. If we blame other
for their negative mood( in the above study, the confederate was the reason for our bad mood)▯this will
decrease our helping . if you feel responsible for your mood▯then you might help other.
• Summary: Positive ▯ will always increase helping more so on average then a negative mood. It will
sometime, but not all the time.
• Video: raped while peopled watched.
• Story: a girl was walking home from the bar. A man attached her. She was stabbed many times while she
was speaking. As many as 38 people said they heard the cries but did not do anything for at least for 45
min. she died by then.
• The Bystander Effect: the effect whereby the presence of other inhibits helpings. (negative correlation. As
people go up, the help goes down) Variables in the Helping Process
1. Noticing: that something is wrong. But it could often be difficult. For example: if stimulus overload: if
there are too many things that are happening, we have to block something while attend to others. When
become so habituated to blocking noises to the point that we can’t notice cries or if something is actually
2. Interpret the situation (the more ambiguous the situation, the less likely that we are to help)
• Pluralistic ignorance: The state in which people in a group mistakenly think that their own individual
thoughts, feelings, or behaviors are different from those of the others in the group (I.e. we think
something is wrong, we look to the group. We think that while no one else is acting then there might not
be any concern. The problem is that others might be assuming just like us).
• Another example: the prof is going really fast ▯ you are probably not the only one who is confused but
you don’t raised your hand ▯ No one else raises his hand to ask the prof for questions
3. Responsibility (we should take action. The problem is that when we are around other people, we assume
that someone else is going to jump in or someone must have already called 911)
• Diffusion of Responsibility: The belief that others will or should take the responsibility for proving