March 12, 2013 – PSYCH 2310
- 84% of us give money to some charity
- 50% of us volunteer our time
Questions of Motives
“Why do we act to benefit others?”
1) we care about welfare of others (altruistic motivation)
2) we care about ourselves (egoistic motivation)
a. evolutionary perspective - helping behaviour does not survive unless
it benefits the organism – in the long run, we are helping ourselves.
A Look at History
- there is a strong assumption in psychology of universal egoism
o this is the majority view that exists in economics, political science, and
philosophy. (Mansbridge, 1990)
Greek philosopher Epictetus
Argues for the lack of presence of altruistic tendency in
When it is comparison between you and your interest,
lover, parent, child, etc., it is YOU at the end that you are
going to fight for.
- 1964, real event
- Silent Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Murder
- Took about 30 minutes and no one did anything
o Man was a husband, son, and father
o Looked for an alone female – found one driving alone in her car - He
followed Kitty – when she got out, he ran after her – stabbed her –
man yelled out window “leave her alone” – the accused ran off –
switched his hat to shadow his face in his car, waited 10 minutes, then
went back to find her again where she managed to move into an open
door way – he found her, killed her – citizen called police but it was
too late – man went back to work – police had no lead – Mosely
(accused) went back to someones house, tried to steal tv – neighbours
who saw him asked him and said he was helping neighbours move –
they took the starter out of his car, when Mosley got back to car he
couldn’t start it – walked away whistling – police came – arrested him
– he eventually confessed to burglaries, rapes, and killing Kitty
Genovese – Slit her throat, stabbed several times, raped her – takes 30
minutes – when he got home, washed knife and moved on like nothing
happened compared women to flies on the wall – he was very sexual
in nature – childhood, mother had operations that had to do with her
vagina – what he did to the girl he murdered, was in his eyes what had March 12, 2013 – PSYCH 2310
happened to his mother - police confirmed 38 law-abiding witnesses
did nothing to help Kitty – how did it happ
o en? What would I have done? – this occurred under a street lamp –
people peak through curtains move from window to window, scene to
scene – 38 people admitted they saw it
- Alternative analysis: the probable of the 38 witnesses (Manning, Levine and
o Not easy to call 911 at the time ??
Why don’t people help?
- Darley and Latane came up with an ingenious answer. They suggested that
after noticing the problem, people have to take a sequential decisions before
Sequential Questions before Helping
- What is the problem?
o Latane and Darley’s experiments
o A state of pluralistic ignorance – when privately you know the norm
that it happening is wrong, but you assume wrongly so that everyone
things it’s right.
You assume everyone thinks like you
- Is it my responsibility?