March 14, 2013 – PSYCH 2310
Altruism and Intergroup Relations
o it refers to feeling empathy for a person in need which leads to
altruistic motivation to relieve that need
o Testing aversive-arousal reduction vs. empathy-altruism hypothesis
Experimental design: escape (easy vs. difficult) empathy (low
o Empathy = you can see someone else’s perspective and can identify
o Other person in this study is very similar to you – try to imagine
yourself in his or her shoes – try to see their perspective – we are
increasing the level of empathy when you feel similar to other person
- according to empathy-altruism hypothesis people are not primarily selfish, at
least not always!
- It is altruism?
o Bob, a university student spends three hours per week as a “big
brother” to an eight-year-old boy whose father has died.
It could be mood enhancement or negative-state relief
o Jill a university student gives a pint of blood in exchange for $7.00
No it’s direct reciprocation
o Believing that those who give shall receive great blessing in return, Ali
contributes their family’s monthly pay cheque to their church fund
o Newsha anonymously donates $500 to a local charity.
Altruistic? Maybe. It could be if we can manipulate measure or
be able to examine her empathic tendency.
o Esmeralda agrees to donate her eyes for transplant in the event of her
You can argue either way. It gets into a more gray area.
- cross-cultural differences in helping strangers
o large cities in 23 countries
o three conditions of helping were:
busy time, busy street in the cities, few metres away
from a person comes walking towards him – how many
people pick up the pen and run back and give it to him.
experimenter wearing leg brace – drops magazines,
how many people stop and pick up magazines March 14, 2013 – PSYCH 2310
helping a blind person across the street
experimenter wearing big dark sunglasses, wants to
cross street- when light for pedestrian turns green, how
many people lend their arms to help experimenter cross
o researchers guessed collectivistic countries would be more helpful
o most helpful countries:
brazil, rio den janeiro
cost rico, san jose
Mexico, mexico city
El Salvador, san Salvador
Czech republic, prague
o Spanish and Portuguese culture – concept of agreeable, helpful is
highly valued – helping the stranger fits in this simpatico
o The less a society is, the more helpful they are – if you are lost, get lost
in a Spanish culture or Africa!
o Least helpful countries:
Israel, Tel Aviv
United States, New York City
Malaysia, Kuala Lampur
Definition of Intergroup Behaviour
- “whenever individuals belonging to one group interact, collectively or
individually, with another group or its members in terms of their group
identification, we have an instance of intergroup behaviour.” (Sherif, 1966, p.
- you are