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PSYC 215 (296)
John Lydon (79)
Chapter 14


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McGill University
PSYC 215
John Lydon

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY CHAPTER 14 NOTES ALTRUISM AND COOPERATION Altruism  Altruism: unselfish behavior that benefits others without regard to consequences for the self  Empathic Concern: A Case of Pure Altruism? o Daniel Batson developed a theory on an altruistic, selfless human state in which several motives are in play; two selfish, one purely selfless  The first selfish motive is social rewards (benefits like praise, positive, attention, tangible rewards, honors, and gratitude that may be gained from helping others)  Altruism gains people esteem and respect of others; two very desirable social rewards  The second selfish motive is personal distress (a motive for helping those in distress that may arise from a need to reduce our own distress)  Neuroimaging shows that when we see another in pain, our own pain regions are activated  We act in response to someone else‟s distress in order to alleviate our own and return to a peaceful state  The third selfless motive is empathic concern (identifying with another person—feeling and understanding what that person is experiencing—accompanied by the intention to help the person in need)  This concern produces an other-oriented state of altruism o Empathy vs. Personal Distress  Studies tested this by isolating personal distress and pitting it against empathic concern to prove that people have selfless motives; participants were given the option to leave at any point but didn‟t and took shocks for the confederate out of empathy o Anonymous Altruism  Another study by Batson showed the same results without the possibility of social rewards being a third variable by adding anonymity in high-empathy and low-empathy conditions; concluded that even in situation where social rewards are irrelevant and unavailable, empathy promotes altruistic behavior o Psychological Indicators of Empathy  One final study showed that people who felt more empathetic concern showed physiological signs of response opposite of the fight-or-flight response in heart rate and were more likely to follow through and help the person in need  Also concluded that empathic concern produces more consistent helping behavior than distress, in part by producing a different physiological response o Empathic Concern and Volunteerism  Volunteerism: nonmonetary assistance an individual regularly provides to another person or group with no expectation of compensation (Omoto & Snyder)  Altruistic feelings like empathic concern and sympathy also appear to be a primary determinant of other pro-social behaviors, like volunteerism  Volunteerism can have other motives, just like altruism  Self-reports of empathic concern predict the likelihood a person will engage in volunteerism  Volunteerism is good for your health; giving help is, not receiving  The Oliners studied how volunteerism was common in people who grew up in homes in which compassion and altruism were valued by interviewing rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust in WWII  Empathic concern is a powerful force in human studies and can be passed from parents to children  Situational Determinants of Altruism o Kitty Genovese was stalked and killed in front of her apartment, and while many of her neighbors heard her cries of distress, only one person called out for the attacker to stop, and none tried to intervene o Why would these people ignore their empathic concern and what inhibits altruism and makes people reluctant to help others in emergencies? o Darley and Batson‟s Good Samaritan Study  Studied the situational determinants of altruism  Seminary students were primed with a neutral concept or a Good Samaritan concept then were told to go across campus and were either in no hurry, a moderate hurry, or a high-hurry condition  On way across campus, all students passed a confederate playing a man visibly and audibly in distress  Whether or not the students were primed with good Samaritans had no effect, only if they were in a hurry or not did; only 10% of the hurried students stopped to help the man  Showed that even the people we would expect to be very altruistic are not under certain circumstances o Audience effects  An important determinant of whether people will or will not stop to help others is the presence of other people  Bystander intervention: the likelihood that people will help intervene in an emergency; reduces as the number of observers increases because each person feels the other people will help  Diffusion of responsibility: a reduced sense of urgency to help another in an emergency based on the assumption that others who are also observing the situation will help  Study by John Darley and Bibb Latané showed that when confronted with an emergency, the larger the group, the less likely people were to get up and help the victim and that even just the assumed presence of strangers inhibits helping behavior  What about the presence of friends not strangers?  Mikulencer and Shaver collected evidence suggesting the presence of companions does increase altruistic behavior  People primed with close friends‟ names showed more empathic concern for confederates and were more likely to help  The presence of strangers may inhibit our altruism, but friends seem to evoke our nobler tendencies o Victim Characteristics  People are most likely to help when the victim is clear and the need is unambiguous  The greater the costs associated with helping, the less likely people are to act altruistically  Even if a victim‟s need is more apparent, like a passed out bleeding victim vs. a passed out, not-bleeding victim, if the likely costs of helping (like possible medical care needed and greater trauma) are high, altruistic intervention is inhibited  Characteristics can effect helping behavior too  Women tend to receive more help than men  More attractive people dressed in traditionally feminine attire are more likely to receive more help from passerby  Explanations: women dressed in feminine attire fit the stereotype that women are dependent and helpless and thus in greater need of help  Also, men view their intervention as a foot-in-the-door for possible romantic involvement with the women in need  People are also more likely to help similar others, including those from their own racial or ethnic group  The parts of the brain associated with empathic response are only activated when we witness the suffering of a member of our own group (Chiao)  Construal Processes and Altruism o Helping in Ambiguous Situations  When a victim‟s distress is not salient, the victim is less likely to receive help; when people in need to vocalize their distress with loud cries, they are much more likely to be helped  Also, people are more likely to help when they are aware of the events leading up to the victim‟s distress  A form of pluralistic ignorance is when people don‟t help because they perceive nothing is wrong because no one else is helping, especially if bystanders have a calm demeanor  In a study that proved this theory, participants rated that they didn‟t report an emergency because they perceived there to be none based on the other participants (confederates) calm demeanors o Combatting Pluralistic Ignorance  Bystanders are less likely to fall prey to pluralistic ignorance when they can clearly see one another‟s initial expression of concern (i.e. before they are
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