PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Prosocial Behavior, Kin Selection, Stata

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Published on 17 Feb 2011
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Chapter 13: Prosocial Behavior (Lecture 21)
Why Do People Help?
Prosocial behavior: any act performed w/ the goal of benefiting another
Altruism: desire to help another person, even if it involves a cost to the
oHelping purely out of the desire to benefit someone else, w/ no
benefit- but often a cost- to oneself
Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes
[Darwin] theory of evolution, natural selection favors genes that promote the
survival of the individual
Any gene that furthers our survival and increases the probability that we will
produce offspring is likely to be passed on from generation to generation
Genes that lower our chances of survival, such as those that cause life-
threatening diseases, reduce the chances that we will produce offspring and
thus are less likely to be passed on
Kin Selection
Kin selection: idea that behavior that helps a genetic relative is favored by
natural selection
Ppl can increase the 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
b/c a persons blood relatives share some of his/ her genes, the more that
person ensures his/ her survival, the greater the chance that that persons
genes will flourish in future generations
natural selection should favor altruistic acts directed toward genetic relatives
ppl reported that they would be more likely to help genetic relatives than non
relatives in life- and death situations, such as a house fire
ppl didnt report that they would be more likely to help genetic relatives when
the situation was non- life threatening
critical variable was the degree of closeness
evolution may actually have created the tendency to help those who are close
to us, rather than the tendency to help those who are related to us
Reciprocity Norm
norm of reciprocity: the expectation that helping others will increase the
likelihood that they will help us in the future
the idea is that as human beings were evolving, a group of completely selfish
individuals, each living in his/ her own cave, would have found in more
difficult to survive than a group who had learned to cooperate w/ one
if ppl cooperated to readily, they might have been exploited by an adversary
who never helped in return
Chapter 13: Prosocial Behavior (Lecture 21)
Learning Social Norms
it is highly adaptive for individuals to learn social norms from members of a
through natural selection, the ability to learn social norms has become part of
our genetic makeup
one norm that ppl learn is the value of helping others
othis is considered to be a valuable norm in virtually all societies
ppl are genetically programmed to learn social norms, and one of these norms
is altruism
evolutionary psychologists believe that ppl help others b/c of 3 factors that
have become ingrained in our genes
okin selection
onorm of reciprocity
oability to learn and follow social norms
Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping
social exchange theory argues that much of what we do stems from the desire
to maximize our rewards and minimize our costs
rewards of helping:
onorm of reciprocity
helping someone is an investment in the future, the social
exchange being that someday someone will help you when you
need it
ohelping can relieve the distress of the bystander
oppl are aroused and disturbed when they see another person suffer,
and that they help at least in part to relive their own distress
ohelping others can gain such rewards as social approval from others
and increased feelings of self worth
helping can be costly
ohelping decreases when the costs are high, as when it would put us
in physical danger, result in pain or embarrassment, or take too
much time
basic assumption of social exchange theory is that ppl help only when the
benefits outweigh the costs
true altruism, in which ppl help even when doing so is costly, doesnt exist
prosocial acts are doubly rewarding in that they help both the giver and the
recipient of the aid
othus, it is to everyones advantage to promote and praise such acts
Empathy and Altruism: Pure Motive for Helping
empathy: the ability to experience events and emotions (e.g. joy and sadness)
the way another person experiences them
if ppl feel empathy, you will help regardless of what you have to gain
Chapter 13: Prosocial Behavior (Lecture 21)
empathy- altruism hypothesis: 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
helping always stems from self- interest, whereas the other passenger took
the view that true altruism exists
participants in the high- empathy condition reported feeling more empathy w/
than did those in the low empathy condition
if empathy was high, ppl should have been motivated by genuine altruistic
concern and should have helped regardless of the costs
ppl who were able to put themselves in another persons shoes were more
likely to behave in prosocial ways toward him/ her (e.g. helping an
experimenter who dropped a box of paper clips, letting a friend have a turn
at an enjoyable game)
we will be helpful if we can disguise our altruism w/ a social exchange façade,
making it look as though there was sth in it for us
if we saw ourselves as pure altruists, we would feel compelled to help each
and every time a need arose, b/c none of us is able to offer unending help, we
would be doomed to feelings of failure and despair
3 basic motives underlying prosocial behavior
o1) helping is an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those
genetically similar to us (evolutionary psychology)
o2) rewards of helping often outweigh the costs, so helping is in our
self- interest (social exchange theory)
o3) under some conditions, powerful feelings of empathy and
compassion for the victim prompt selfless giving (the empathy-
altruism hypothesis)
Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior: Why do some People Help
More than Others?
Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality
Altruistic personality: aspects of a persons makeup that cause him/ her to
help others in a wide variety of situations
Average correlation b/w helping in one situation and helping in another was
only 0.23
oMeans that if you knew how helpful a child was in one situation, you
could not predict w/ much confidence how helpful he/ she would be in
Gender Differences in Prosocial Behavior
In western cultures, the male sex role includes being well-mannered and
heroic; females are expected to be nurturing and caring and to value close,
long term relationship
Research confirms that helping that involves nurturance and commitment is
more likely to be performed by women than by men