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Chapter 14

Textbook Chapter 14 - Altruism and Cooperation

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Hywel Morgan

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Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 14: ALTRUISM AND COOPERATION (529-561) Altruism - Altruism – Unselfish behavior that benefits others without regard to consequences for the self - Many forces can inhibit altruistic action, including basic tendencies toward self- preservation and fear of embarrassment Empathic Concern: A Case of Pure Altruism? - Social Rewards – Benefits like praise, positive attention, tangible rewards, honors, and gratitude that may be gained from helping others o Altruistic action earns people the esteem and respect of others while being motivated by how it will look to others - Personal Distress – A motive for helping those in distress that may arise from a need to reduce our own distress o Studies show that when we watch someone else experience pain, the pain regions of the brain are activated; The resulting feelings lead us to act in ways that return us to a more peaceful state - Empathetic Concern – Identifying with another person – feeling and understanding what that person is experiencing – accompanied by the intention to help the person in need o This concern produces a selfless or other-oriented altruism - Empathy versus Personal Distress o Batson and colleagues took an imaginative approach in experiments that expose participants to another person in distress o Experiments were set up so that egoistic motive – to reduce personal distress or gain social rewards – would lead to little helping behavior o The participant is led to emphasize with the person in need; if an empathic concern produces helping, even in the face of egoistic opportunities to avoid it, they infer that there is an empathy-based form of helping that is not selfishly motivated - Anonymous Altruism o In this study, Batson asked female participants to form an impression of another person based on some information that person wrote while seated in another cubicle o Participants who were encouraged to feel empathy for another student, Janet (confederate), who reported feeling lonely, volunteered to spend more time with her, even in the low-social-evaluation condition, where their volunteering was anonymous - Physiological Indicator of Empathy o Eisenberg showed a videotape of a woman and her children who had recently been in an accident to second graders, fifth graders, or college students o The participants facial expressions were recorded on videotape and continuous measures of heart rate were taken while watching the moving film clip o Both children and college students who felt sympathy and concern showed eyebrows that were pulled in and upward, a concerned gaze, and heart rate deceleration (these participants were more likely to help) o Participants who reported distress while watching the videotape showed a pained wince in the face and heart rate acceleration, and were less likely to help o Empathic concern produces more helping behavior than distress; it also appears to do so in part through a different physiological response - Empathic Concern and Volunteerism o Feelings of empathic concern and sympathy increase the likelihood that people will act altruistically, helping those who suffer Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 14: ALTRUISM AND COOPERATION (529-561) o Volunteerism – Nonmonetary assistance an individual regularly provides to another or group with no expectation of compensation o Empathic concern apparently is a powerful force for good in human societies and can be passed from parents to children Situational Determinants of Altruism - Kitty Genovese was sexually assaulted, stabbed and murdered in her apartment staircase. Many neighbors admitted to hearing her cries and thought it was “a lover’s quarrel” or that they were “too tired”. o Genoovese murder moved several social psychologists to attempt to understand the processes that dampen our empathic concern, inhibit altruistic action, and make people reluctant to intervene during emergencies - Darley and Batsons’s Good Samaritan Study o Darley and Batson asked students attending Princeton Theological Seminary to give a talk to undergraduate students at another location on the Prnceton campus o In one condition, the seminary students were told that the topic of the talk would be the jobs that seminary students typically find up graduating o In the second condition, they were to give a talk on the tale of the Good Samaritan - Audience Effects o Bystander Intervention – Giving assistance to someone in need on the part of those who have witnessed an emergency. Bystander intervention is generally reduced s the number of observers increases because each person feels that someone else will probably help. o Diffusion of Responsibility – A reduction of the sense of urgency to help someone involved in an emergency or dangerous situation under the assumption that others who are also observing the situation will help. o Many real-world observations would suggest that the presence of friends might boost levels of altruism - Victim Characteristics o Research shows that bystanders help victims who scream and make their needs known between 75-100% of the time, but they will help silent victims only between 25-40 % of the time o More enduring characteristics of the victim also powerfully influence rates of helping o Gender: more attractive women and women dressed in conventional female attire due to the stereotype of being more dependent and helpless o People are more likely to help individuals from their own racial or ethnic group Construal Processes and Altruism - Helping in Ambiguous Situations o Helping requires the potential helper to perceive first that a person is suffering and that intervention is needed o People are more likely to help when they are aware of the events leading up to the vi
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