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Lecture 9

PSY220H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Natural Disaster, Convenience Store, The Control Group

Course Code
Ashley Waggoner Denton

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lec 9
Prosocial Behaviour
Prosocial behaviour : Behaviour whose immediate goal is to help or benefit
Can take many different forms
Example: Organ Donation
What factors do you think contribute to people’s intent to donate their
organs? Living organ donors. For certain organs you can be a living donar like
for a kidney, piece of liver because you don’t need two kidneys.
There are anonoymous organ donor , who just gives to people they havent
met before
Empathy is a factor : putting yourself in someone elses shoe
What other factors ? Postive attitudes toward the behaviour of being organ
2)People who want to help others, they just have this desire
3)Knowing someone who has received or donated an organ
Is Helping in our Genes?
Three ways in which helping others could be evolutionarily beneficial:
1. Benefits to the individual
Helping sometimes involves a reward for the “helper as well as
the “helpee”
Reciprocal helping : When you help someone, they are likely to
repay this in the future, which may improve your chances of
2. Benefits to kin
Helping kin (family) who share your genes, means that you’ve
increased the likelihood of their survival and passing those
shared genes on to the next generation
E.g., Alarm cries in animals à The “crier” takes a big risk, but it
increases the chance his family will survive an attack
More likely to help those who share our genes
Alrarm criers in animals : ground squrieles , they see a predator approaching
and the cries to warn everyone else , crier make themelsves vulnerable but
they also protect their kin, group family. This is prosocial help in animal
1. Benefits to the group
Groups with prosocial rather than selfish members are often
more likely to survive, particularly in bad times (e.g., famine,
Ensuring that one’s group survives increases the chances of
one’s own survival, and the survival of one’s kin
In your social group . We are social creatures we can only survive in groups.
The prosocial groups are the ones that will survive
Prosocial Behaviour
Why do people engage in prosocial behaviour?
Altruism : Prosocial behaviour motivated by the desire to benefit others for
their own sake, rather than for personal rewards
Egoism : Prosocial behaviour motivated by the desire for personal rewards
(even if the reward is feeling good for having helped someone)
These two theories . Alturism ? Do you just want to help / unselfish motives
for the sake of the other person
Some Pyschologist say there might not be a thing called altruism , people are
doing things for egoistic rewards.
Friends episode : he challenged to girl to do anything without being selfish .
He says there are no unselfish good deeds , and she tries to do a deed that is
just purely to help someone but every deed she does she feels good, and it
proves that all deeds can’t be purely altrusitic .
Philippines Typhoon
Canadians as whole have donated nearly 20 million dollars .
Lots of volunteers helping church, muslims, jews all coming down to help .
They could be doing it because they family in the phillpines or some may be
donating and they don’t know anyone in the phillipines , they have no
connection . So why are they donating ? What factors influcne them ? Its not
statistics that people are effected by but what really matters is if they can put
themselves in the other persons shoes . Perepective taking, it generates an
epathteic response. If they can idenetify with the victim ( telling a story of a
particular famliy on t.v is more effectie than statistics because we cant
identify with the stats )
So… is prosocial behaviour always selfish?
Its also egoism , its all selfishly motivated.
If we do engage in prosocial behaviour its egoistic
We avoid the victims, change the channel to stop feeling bad.
Empathy-altruism model
According to this model, people can experience two types of emotion when
they see someone in trouble:
Personal distress : Alarm, anxiety, fear
Empathic concern : Sympathy, compassion
Personal distress leads to either egoistic helping or escape
Empathic concern leads to altruistic helping
What determines the person’s emotional response? à Identification with the
person (victim)
Adds an altrustic motive to the negative state model
Seeing someone in need can lead to empathic concern
You generally want to relieve their pain when you have empathic concern .
More likely to feel sympathy with those who we identify with
Comparing the Models
So, what does the research have to say? Can people be motivated to help others for
altruistic, unselfish reasons?
Batson et al (1989):
Manipulated/measured how much empathy people felt toward a victim, and
whether they expected their mood to soon be enhanced by watching an
enjoyable video or not
Study 1 : Would you be willing to take his/her place?
Study 2 : How many hours would you like to volunteer?
Under certain cirucmstance people will help for egositic reasons and
sometimes in some condtions they will help for altrusitic reasons
Study meausred their altruism / empathy . Those who score high will help in
certain cirucmatnces
The particpants saw someone getting mild eletreic shocks and they watch
them through a video screen and then something happens and person asks
for a drink of water , and they over hear someone say that the person is
screaming a lot because they had a traumaic past with shocks. The
experimenter tells the person you don’t have to continue and they theres
another particpant and we can ask if they want to take your place. When the
ask to take their place in the electric shock room