PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Chat Room, Normative Social Influence, Kulala

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Chapter 10. Helping Others
Evolutionary and Motivational Factors: Why Do People Help?
Prosocial behaviors: actions intended to benefit others
Evolutionary Factors in Helping
Evolutionary scientists use principles of evolution to understand human social behavior
The “Selfish Gene”
From the perspective of evolution, human social behavior should be analyzed in terms of its contribution to
reproductive success in ancestral environments
The tendency to help genetic relatives, kin selection, could become an innate characteristic; just as human often risk
their lives to save close relatives, many other animals do the same
Because kinship selection serves the function of genetic survival, preferential helping of genetic relatives should be
strongest when the biological stakes are particularly high
oSteve Stewart-Williams (2007): university students asked to first think about a cousin, acquaintance, close
friend, or siblings  more helping occurred among those more closely related; one exception: friends received
as much help as did more closely related kin. However, if the cost of helping was low, friends received the
most help, whereas if the cost of helping was high, siblings were much more likely to get help
Participants withstood the pain and held the position linger if they were doing so for a genetically close relative than
for a more distant relative, a friend, or a charity
Reciprocal Altruism
Relatives are not always helpful to each other
Through reciprocal altruism, helping someone else can be in your best interests because it increases the likelihood
that you will be helped in return; increasing their chances of survival and reproductive success
oRobert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney (1984): female vervet monkeys calling out for help and then played the
recorded vocalizations near other female monkeys. Half of these other monkeys heard a female who had
recently groomed them were more likely to respond attentively to the request for help
oWaal and Berger (2000): one monkey by itself could not pull the tray, but the two monkeys could accomplish
the task cooperatively. When successful, the monkey that wound up with the food consistently shared it with
its helper, becoming more likely to help each other in the future
The development of norms and the punishment of individuals who deviate from the norm are key factors in
maintaining reciprocal altruism, especially in groups of non-kin
The Altruistic Group
Kin selection and reciprocal altruism emphasize helping specific others based on genetic relatedness or the
probability of being helped in return.
However, much helping goes beyond the limits
oSober and Wilson (1998): group selection may play a role in accounting for the evolution of human
psychology: groups with altruistic members may be more likely to thrive and avoid extinction than groups with
only selfish individuals; could be innate, universal tendency
Rewards of Helping: Helping Others to Help Oneself
One important reason why people help others is because it often is rewarding, even if the rewards are psychological
rather than material; helping helps the helper
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People are much more likely to help when the potential rewards of helping seem high relative to the potential costs
Potential helpers around the world often seem to conduct a cost-benefit analysis not only when making deliberate
decisions to behave prosaically, as when donating blood, but also in more impulsive sudden decisions to intervene in
an emergency
Arousal: Coast reward model (the proposition that people react to emergency situations by acting in the
most cost-effective way to reduce the arousal of shock and alarm) of helping stipulates that both emotional and
cognitive factors determine whether bystanders to an emergency will intervene; Emotionally, bystanders experience
the shock and alarm of personal distress, motiving them to do something to reduce it. However, depends on the
“bystander calculus”, their computation of the costs and rewards associated with helping
Feeling Good
A growing body of research reveals a strong relationship between giving help and feeling better, including on
measures of mental and physical health
Doing volunteer work was associated with improvements in psychological well-beings, and that volunteering for
multiple organizations was associated with greater improvements
oRilling and others (2002): brain activity of women playing a Prisoner’s Dilemma game: when women were
engaged in mutual cooperation during the game, activation was observed in areas of the brain that are linked
to processing rewards
oTheir brain activity suggested that cooperation was intrinsically rewarding, and this feeling could reinforce
altruism and inhibit selfishness
oIncreased by administering a dose of oxytocin - a hormone associated with positive social interactions
It can pay off in the long run
Children learn that helping other can be rewarding
The process of helping others in order to feel good about oneself is often not conscious, but it can be
People’s awareness that helping feels good is evident in the words offered by no less an authority than the venerable
Negative state relief model (the proposition that people help others in order to counteract their own feelings of
sadness): because of this positive effect of helping, people who are feeling bad may be inclined to help others in
order to improve their mood
Acts of helping may be triggered by norms and moral principles, but of course they can also serve to make the
helpers feel good about themselves
The Cost of Helping, or of Not Helping
Thoughtful helping in the face of potentially enormous coast courageous resistance; the effects on the helper’s
physical and mental health can be quite negative
To lower some of the costs of helping, several provinces have created “Good Samarian” law that encourage people to
provide or summon aid in an emergency as long as they do not endanger themselves in the process
Altruism or Egoism: The Great Debate
Altruistic: motivated by the desire to improve another’s welfare
Egoistic: motivated by the desire to improve one’s own welfare
The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis
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The major cognitive component Empathy (understanding or vicariously experiencing another individual’s perspective
and feeling sympathy and compassion for that individual): perspective taking: using the power of imagination to try to
see the world through someone else’ eyes
Emotional component is empathic concern: involves other-oriented feelings, such as sympathy, compassion, and
tenderness  personal distress: self-oriented reactions to a person in need, such as feeling alarmed, trouble, or upset
Empathy-altruism hypothesis: the proposition that empathic concern for a person in need produces an altruistic
motive for helping
Human infants are capable of at least a rudimentary degree of perspective taking leading to helping behavior
Tomasellp (2006): 18-month-old human infants helped an experimenter on several tasks
o1) The experimenter never requested help from the infants nor did he praise or reward the infants when they
helped
o2) the experimenter created a similar situation in which he did not seem to have a problem; when they did
help the experimenter, the infants did so because they understood he was trying to achieve some goals
Waal (2008): ‘there is now increasing evidence that the brain is hardwired fro social connection, and that the same
empathy mechanism proposed to underlie human altruism may underlie the directed altruism of other animals”
fMRI scans and brain stimulation have highlighted areas of the brain that appear to be associated with empathy in
humans
the difference between egoistic and altruist motives: when a person’s motive is egoistic, helping should decline if its
easy for the individual to escape from the situation. When a person’s motive is altruistic, however, help will be given
regardless of the ease of escape
Baston and his colleagues (2007): the role of both perspectives taking and having warm emotional reactions to the
other person in predicting helping.
oThose in the objective condition  those students in the imagine-perspective condition were asked to “try to
imagine how the student facing a difficulty feels and how it is affecting his or her life”,
oParticipants who had been induced both to take Bryan’s perspective and to feel emotionally positive toward
were more likely to sing up to help the injured student
oConsistent with the empathy-altruism hypothesis, the more these students felt empathic concern for the
student, the more likely they were to step up and actually offer to help him
oIt has limits: not all the students were altruistically motivated; any single helpful action can be the result of a
mixture of egoistic and altruistic motives
oThe most effective way to increase helping is to encourage people to recognize and feel comfortable with the
convergence of self-oriented and other–oriented concerns
oMotives do not guarantee behavior. Empathy leads to altruistic motivations, but not necessarily to helpful
behaviours.
oSimpson and Willer (2008): individuals they classified as egoists tended to act prosaically when their
reputation were at stake, but individuals they classified as altruistic tended to act prosaically regardless of
whether their reputations could be affected
Altruism Versus Egoism: Convergence of Motivations
The debate may also become less relevant when considering more long-term helping behavior, such as
volunteerism
People tend to volunteer due to multiple motives
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