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Chapter 10

chapter 10- Why do People Help.doc

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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 behaviour 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: 1. Kin selection 3. The ability to learn and follow social norms 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 The three theories discussed so far: 1. Evolutionary Theory: Helping is an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those genetically similar to us 2. Social Exchange Theory: The rewards of helping often outweigh the costs, so helping is in our self-interest 3. Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: Under some conditions, powerful feelings of empathy and compassion for the victim prompt selfless giving Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behaviour: Why Do Some People Help More than Others? Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality Altruistic Personality: Aspects of a person’s makeup that cause him or her to help others in a wide variety of situations When determining whether a person will be helpful and altruistic, it is important to take personality traits and the situation into consideration Gender does make a difference in the amount and type of altruistic behaviour demonstrated; men tend to be more heroic and chivalrous while women are more caring and nurturing These roles are learned at a young age in the societies we live in Cultural Differences in Prosocial Behaviour In all cultures, both Western and Eastern (Asian), people are more likely to help someone if they define them as a member of their in group. They are more likely to feel empathy towards them, which leads to help They are less likely to help if they view them as part of the out-group, a group with which the individual does not identify Cultural differences come in distinguishing the line between in-groups and out- grou
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