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Chapter 4-5

PSYCH 2C03 Chapter 4-5: Pro Social Readings

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Jennifer Ostovich

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Social Psych Chap 10
Prosocial Behaviour
Why Do People Help People?
Prosocial Behaviour: Any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person.
Altruism: The desire to help others, even if it involves a cost to the helper.
Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes:
- Theory of evolution = natural selection favours genes that promote the survival of the ind.
- Problem with evolutionary theory: how can it explain altruism?
Kin Selection: The idea that behaviours that help a genetic relative are favoured by natural
- People can increase the chances of their genes being passed on not only by having their own
children but also ensuring that their genetic relatives have children.
The Reciprocity Norm: The expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that
they will help us in the future.
Learning Social Norms:
Herbert Simon - one more link between evolution & altruism.
- It is highly adaptive for inds to learn social norms from other members of society.
-Through natural selection, the ability to learn social norms has become part of our genetic
- People help others because of 3 factors that have become ingrained in our genes: kin
selection, the norm of reciprocity & the ability to learn & follow social norms.
Social Exchange: The Costs & Rewards of Helping
- Social Exchange Theory argues that much of what we do stems from the desire to maximize
our rewards & minimize our costs.
Empathy & Altruism: The Pure Motives for Helping
- Batson: Pure altruism is likely to happen when we feel empathy for the person in need of help.
Empathy: The ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another person, experiencing events &
emotions the way that person experiences them.
Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: If you feel empathy for someone, you will help because your
goal will be to relieve that person's distress, not to gain something for yourself.
Three basic motives underlying prosocial behaviour:
1. Helping is an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those genetically similar to us
(evolutionary psychology)
2. The rewards of helping often outweigh the costs, so helping is in our self-interest (social
3. Under some conditions, powerful feelings of empathy for others prompt self-less giving
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