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PSYC 2120 Chapter 10.docx

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PSYC 2120
Irwin Silverman

PSYC 2120 Chapter 10: Prosocial Behaviour Why do people help? - Prosocial behaviour, any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person - Altruism, a prosocial behaviour which is the desire to help another person, even if it involves a cost to the helper - According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, natural selection favours genes that promote the survival of the individual. Any gene that furthers our survival and increases the probability that we will produce offspring is likely to be passed on from generation to generation. Genes that lower our chances of survival, such as those that cause life threatening diseases, reduce the chances that we will produce offspring and thus are less likely to passed on - Over the centuries, altruistic behaviour would disappear because people who acted that way would, by putting themselves at risk, produce fewer offspring than would people who acted selfishly - Evolutionary psychologists believe that people help others because of three factors that have become ingrained in our genes: kin selection, the norm of reciprocity, and the ability to learn and follow social norms - One way that evolutionary psychologists attempt to resolve this dilemma is with the notion of kin selection, the idea that behaviour that help a genetic relative are favoured by natural selection. People can increase the chances that their genes will be passed along not only by having their own children but also by ensuring that their genetic relatives have children - According to evolutionary theory, however, the genes of people who follow this biological importance rule are more likely to survive than the genes of people who do not. Thus, they argue that over the millennia, kin selection became ingrained in human behaviour - To explain altruism, evolutionary psychologists also point to the norm of reciprocity, which is the expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future - Those who were most likely to survive, the argument goes, were people who developed an understanding with their neighbours about reciprocity: “I will help you now, with the agreement that when I need help, you will return the favour” - Also it is highly adaptive for individuals to learn social norms from other member of society. Through natural selection, the ability to learn social norms has become part of our genetic makeup. One norm that people learn is the value of helping others. In short, people are genetically programmed to learn social norms, and one of these norms is altruism - Social exchange theory, argues that much of what we do stems from the desire to maximize our rewards and minimize our costs. By helping others, their genes will be passed on (reward). However helping can also be costly, helping decreases when the costs are high, as when it would put us in physical danger, results in pain or embarrassment - Pure altruism is likely to come into play when we feel Empathy, the ability to experience events and emotions (joy or sadness) the way another person experiences them - Empathy altruism hypothesis, the idea that when we feel empathy for a person, we will attempt to help him or her purely for altruistic reasons, regardless of what we have to gain - To sum up we’ve identified three basic motives underlying prosocial behaviour: 1. Helping is an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those genetically similar to us (evolutionary psychology)
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