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Chapter 10

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Motivation, Pluralistic Ignorance, 18 Months

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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Social Psychology:
Chapter 10: Why Do People Help?
Prosocial Behavior: Any act performed with the goal of benefiting
another person
Altruism: the desire to help another person, even if it involves a cost
to the helper; it does not include helping somebody for
personal gain, only helping for the desire to benefit
someone else
Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes
The evolution theory states that any gene that enhances the probability of survival
and the production of offspring will be passed on from generation to generation,
whereas those genes that reduces the chances of survival will not be passed on
This theory does not account for altruistic behaviour, as it often involves behaviours
that risk the individuals well being
Kin Selection: the idea that behaviour that helps a genetic relative is
favoured by natural selection
Via kin selection, the chances of your genes being passed to the next generation is
enhanced not only by your children, but the children of your relatives
According to the evolutionary theory, those who follow kin selection are more likely to
survive than those who do not, so over the millennia, it has been ingrained in human
Research does not fully support this; emotional closeness, rather than genetic
relatedness, is a better predictor of altruism
Norm of Reciprocity: The expectation that helping others will increase the
likelihood that they will help us in the future
In this theory, evolutionary psychologists claim that those who were most likely to
survive were those who developed and understood with their neighbours that they
will provide help with the expectation that help will be given in times of need
In the social norm theory, it is not directly altruism that is learned per se, but rather it
is in a person`s genetic makeup to quickly and effectively learn social norms, and
helping one another is a social norm in all societies
In sum, evolutionary psychologists believe that people help each other because of
three factors:

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1. Kin selection 3. The ability to learn and follow social
2. The norm reciprocity
Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping
According to the social exchange theory, people form relationships to maximize our
rewards and minimize the costs
The rewards of helping include forming future investments (they will help you later),
relieving the distress of the bystander, and also relieving your own distress, and
finally social approval
However people are less likely to help when the costs are high, when it would put
them in physical danger, result in pain or embarrassment, or take too much time
Therefore the social exchange theory holds that people will help only when the
benefits outweigh the costs. Altruism, in which people help even when it is costly,
does not exist according to this theory
All altruism comes with some benefit, whether it be the good feeling of helping
others, or the social regard that comes with being a philanthropist
Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping
Empathy: The ability to experience events and emotions (e.g. joy and
sadness) the way another person experiences them
This theory maintains that altruistic behaviour is more likely when you feel empathy
towards the person
Empathy-altruism Hypothesis: the idea that when we feel empathy for a
person, we will attempt to help him or her, purely for
altruistic reasons, regardless of what we have to gain
If a person does not feel empathy towards the person, then the social exchange
theory comes into play. In this case, you will look at what’s in it for you. If there is a
possible benefit in the situation, you will help; if not, you will not
Empathy was related to helping among children as young as five years old
In a twist to this theory, it has been proposed that people are more likely to help if the
act allows them to see themselves as altruistic, but not unconditionally so
This is because if we saw ourselves as purely altruistic, we would feel
compelled to help other every time they need help, but since that is not
possible we are dooming ourselves to failure. Therefore by disguising our
altruism in exchange theory, we can provide our altruism without making a
lifetime commitment
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