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Chapter 10

Chapter 10 Prosocial Behavior

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PSYC 260
Janelle Jones

PSYC 260 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 10 – Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior – 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 Why Do People Help? Three Basic Motives underlying Prosocial Behavior: 1. Evolutionary Psychology – helping as an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those genetically similar to us 2. Social Exchange Theory – the rewards of helping others often outweigh the costs, so helping is in our self-interest 3. Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis – under some conditions, powerful feelings of empathy for others prompt selfless giving Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes - Kin Selection – the idea that behavior that helps genetic relative is favored by natural selection o The logic behind this: people can increase their 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 o People report that they would be more likely to help genetic relatives than nonrelatives in life-or-death situations  but not when the situation was non-life threatening  Both men and women, Japanese and American participants, follow this rule  This is hypothetical research; we do not know what people would actually do in a life threatening situation: save sibling or friend? o The genes of people who follow this “biological importance” rule are more likely to survive than the genes of people who do not o Korchmaros and Kenny (2006) – found that people are more likely to help not based on genetic relatedness, but rather were most likely to help those to whom they had the closest emotional ties - The Reciprocity Norm – the expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future o Those most likely to survive developed an understanding with their neighbors about reciprocity - Learning Social Norms – through natural selection, the ability to learn social norms has become part of our genetic make up o It is highly adaptive for individuals to learn social norms for other members of a society o People are genetically programmed to learn social norms, and one of these norms is altruism Social Exchange Theory - Basic assumption – people only help when benefits outweigh the costs - According to this theory, true altruism does not exist - Altruistic behavior can be based on self-interest - Some rewards of helping o As seen in norm of reciprocity, helping someone may be an investment for the future o People are distressed when they see someone suffer, so they help to relieve their own distress o Social approval from others o Increased feelings of self worth - Costs to helping – people less likely to help when costs are high o Physical danger o Result in pain or embarrassment o Take too much time Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis (Batson, 1991)– the idea that when we feel empathy for a person, we will attempt to help him/her purely for altruistic reasons, regardless of what we have to gain - Empathy – the ability to experience events and emotions the way another person experiences them - Feeling empathy will lead you to help - If you do not feel empathy, then social exchange comes into play - Carol Marcy study by Miho Toi and Daniel Batson (1982) o Students listened to tape for school radio station and were told about Carol Marcy who got into an accident and may have to drop her Intro Psychology class unless she can find a student she can borrow lecture notes from o High empathy condition: listener was told to put themselves in her shoes o Low empathy condition: listener was told to be objective and to not be concerned with how Carol felt o High-cost condition: Carol would start coming to class (in her wheelchair) and if the participant doesn’t help, then they would see Carol at class every week and feel guilty that they didn’t help o Low-cost condition: Carol would be studying at home and listener would not have to see her in a wheelchair PERSONAL DETERMINANTS OF PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR: WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HELP MORE THAN OTHERS? Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality - Altruistic Personality – aspect’s of a person’s makeup that cause him or her to help others in a wide variety of situations - Personality alone does not determine behavior o People with high scores on personality tests on altruism are not that much more likely to help than those with lower scores - Other factors to consider – situational pressures, gender, culture, current mood, etc Gender Differences - In all cultures, norms prescribe different traits and behaviors for males and females - Male sex role includes being chivalrous and heroic i.e. saving someone from a burning house - Females are expected to be nurturing and caring and to value close, long-term relationships i.e. help an old lady cross the street - Medal of Bravery(MOB): given to 46 males, and 6 females in 2010 - Caring Canadian Award(CCA): given to 59 women, and 35 men in 2007 - UBC researchers inter
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