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Lecture 3

Psychology 2070A/B Lecture 3: Alturism

Course Code
Irene Cheung

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Mcguire’s taxonomy of helping behaviour
- casual helping- small favors that we do for other people
- substantial personal helping- example helping someone move
- emotional helping- providing emotional support
- emergency helping - helping a stranger after a car accident
What does it mean to be altruistic?
Prosocial behaviour
Any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person
Term sometimes preferred by social psychologists studying helping behavior
An act
The desire to help another person even if it involves no benefit, or even a cost, to the
Text: A motive to increase another’s welfare without conscious regard for one’s self-
Why do people help? Evolutionary Psychology
Charles Darwin & natural selection
Genes that promote survival are likely to be passed on
Evolutionary psychology
Explain social behaviour based on genetic factors
However, evolutionary theory seems problematic in explaining altruistic behaviour
if our main goal is to help others survive, why do people put their lives at risk to help
other people
Why do people help? Evolutionary Psychology
• Kin selection can explain altruistic behaviour from an evolutionary perspective
Because people share part of their genes with blood relatives, helping relatives would
ensure that their genes are passed along
we want to help people who are genetically related to
the idea of keeping our genes alive is not necessarily from our genes directly
People are not always consciously thinking about the biological importance of their
Korchmaros & Kenny (2006)
Asked Ps to list names of immediate & extended family members, as well as how
close they felt to them
Contrary to kin selection, Ps were more willing to help family members they have a
close emotional tie with rather than those who they are most closely related to
The reciprocity norm: helping others will increase the chances that they will help us in
the future
People who understand this norm are more likely to survive
Accepting help makes people feel obligated to return the favour
Prosocial Behaviour
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