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Chapter 9

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PSYC 215
Michael Sullivan

Chapter 9: Pro-social Behaviour: Doing Whats Best for Others What is Pro-social Behaviour? Doing something that is good for other people or for society as a whole. It builds relationships. Some textbooks claim that helping is the only pro-social behaviour, and things such as obedience, conformity and other ways of following the rules to be a bad thing. In reality, these are the quintessential pro-social behaviours, while helping is more of an extra. A society in which people respect and follow the rules is said to have an effective rule of law. Researchers have found a positive correlation between rule of law and happiness. Fairness and justice are also important factors in predicting pro-social behaviour (it makes people want to act in this way). A lot of pro-social behaviour is stimulated by others, when people are watching. One purpose of pro-social behaviour, especially when it is at a cost to the self, is to get oneself accepted into the group. Doing nice things without recognition is less beneficial. Other studies show that favours increase compliance in both public and private settings, but more so in public ones. Born to Reciprocate Reciprocity: the obligation to return in kind what another has done for us. This is found in other animals than humans. Some reciprocity can be indirect- helping someone, and then receiving help later from someone else who knows you by reputation. Peoples tendency to seek help also depends on whether they think that they will be able to pay it back. This is a big problem with the elderly. In this sense, people tend to have an acute sense of fairness. Born to be Fair Fairness is part of our culture and it starts with reciprocity. Norms: standards established by society to tell its members what types of behaviour are typical or expected. Norms based on fairness and important to determine whether or not people contribute to the common good. Some norms: o Equity: person receives benefits equal to what he or she has contributed o Equality: everyone gets the same amount Fairness is important; if we think we are takers rather than givers, this can lead to depression. Sensitivity about being the target of a threatening upward comparison: interpersonal concern about the consequences of outperforming others. Do animals understand fairness? o Researchers trained monkeys to fetch rocks, and were rewarded with cucumber. Some randomly got grapes, which are better. Those who did not got angry; they either refused to fetch more rocks or flung aside their cucumber. Underbenefited: getting less than you deserve Overbenefited: getting more than you deserve Moneys have an acute sense of when they are underbenefited, like several other animals. Full-blown sense of fairness involves both, and this was only in humans. Getting less promotes anger and resentment, while getting more promotes guilt. QUIZ: 1. Henrietta helped Maurille when her first child was born. When Henrietta has her first child, Maurille thinks that she ought to help Henrietta. This type of helping illustrates the norm of _____. a. Equity b. Reciprocity c. Social justice d. Social responsibility 2. Albert thinks that because he has more job experience than others on his shift, he should make more money than they do. This illustrates the norm of _____. a. Equality b. Equity c. Reciprocity d. Social Responsibility 3. At the local soup kitchen, volunteers give everyone one bowl of soup regardless of how much money they have or how hungry they are. This type of helping illustrates the norm of _____. a. Equality b. Equity c. Reciprocity d. Social responsibility 4. Some people feel bad for having lived through terrible experiences in which many others died. This feeling is called _______. a. Overbenefited b. Posttraumatic stress disorder c. Sensitivity about being the target of a threatening upward comparison d. Survivor guilt Cooperation, Forgiveness, Obedience and Conformity Cooperation Vital and simple form of prosocial behaviour, based on reciprocity Studies on cooperation done using the prisoners dilemma: forces people to choose between a cooperative act and another act that combines being competitive, exploitative, and defensive.o Robert Axelrod (political scientist): computer tournament designed to investigate the prisoners dilemma. Contestants submitted computer programs o The best strategy to win was to copy what the other player did o This is a non-zero-sum game. Zero sum games (eg poker, or chess) have no net gain or less. Money increases self-sufficiency Cooperation also depends on the type of person. Cooperators see it as good vs. bad, while competitors see it as strong vs. weak. When two people are cooperative, the game works well. When both are defensive, they both mutually do badly. When only one wants to cooperate, this person rapidly changes to being defensive. Successful cooperation also depends on communication; it must be present and easy. Forgiveness Ceasing to feel angry and ceasing to seek retribution from someone. The more someone is committed to a relationship, the more likely they will forgive. Forgiveness leads to better re
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