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Chapter Chapter 10

Psychology 2720A/B Chapter Chapter 10: Prosocial Behaviour

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Psychology 2720A/B
Mike Morrison

Chapter 10 – Prosocial Behaviour WHY DO PEOPLE HELP? Prosocial Behaviour: any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person Aultruism: the desire to help others, even if it involves a cost to the helper  EXAMPLE – saving someone who is drowning o You risk your own life by saving them and you have no self-benefit by helping them Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes Why would people override their own goals ensuring their own survival to help others? Kin Selection Kin Selection: the idea that behaviour that helps a genetic relative is favoured by natural selection - We are more likely to help our relatives than strangers o Relatives share DNA, keeping them alive will increase the chances of passing on your genes to future generations  Kin selection only applies to life-threatening circumstances  We are more likely to help a non-relative in minor situations o People are more likely to search for family members when exiting a burning building than friends EXPERIMENT – Closeness vs. Genetics  Participants were asked to list their immediate and extended family members and report how close they were to each  Participants were later asked which family member they would help in a specific situation o Results: participants were more likely to help family members whom they stated they were closest with  How similar in genetics people were did not determine whether they would help the family member The Reciprocity Norm Norm of Reciprocity: the expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future  Reciprocity is present in infants – they reciprocate good deeds Learning Social Norms  The ability to learn and adapt to social norms is part of natural selection o Those who are able to learn social norms are more likely to survive  Altruism is a learned social norm o Learning to help people Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping Within our interactions with others, we try to maximize our rewards and minimize our costs We help others for selfish reasons – we help others for the rewards and to benefit ourselves  Rewards of helping others o Relieves our own distress o Increase in social approval from others People only help others when the benefits outweigh the costs  If helping someone is perceived as dangerous or could cause pain, we are less likely to help others Prosocial act benefit the giver and the receiver Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping Empathy: the ability to experience events and emotions (e.g., joy, sadness) the way another person experiences them o We are more likely to be altruistic when we can empathize for other people 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 o When you’re empathetic, you act altruistically o If you are unable to empathize, you will help a person based on social exchange theory – does helping the person provide a benefit for you?  If so, you will help them, if not, you will overlook the dilemma EXPERIMENT – high empathy vs. low empathy o Participants listened to a tape of a female in their class who had gotten in an accident and is now in a wheel chair – she can also no longer attend class o Students in one condition were told to imagine her life and how she felt o Students in another condition were told not to think about how she felt – too think objectively o Participants were then asked if they would give the girl on the tape notes so that she did not have to drop out of the class o Results: students in the high empathy group were more likely to provide notes to the girl on the tape o Results: Students in the high empathy group were equally as likely to help the girl if she had returned to class and if she had not returned to class  Students in the low empathy group were more likely to help the girl if she were to return to class a week later – helping to relieve the guilt of seeing the girl in the wheel chair Summary 1. Helping is an instinctive reaction to promote the welfare of those genetically similar to us a. Evolutionary Psychology 2. The rewards of helping often outweigh the costs, so helping is in our self-interest a. Social exchange theory 3. Under some conditions, powerful feelings of empathy for others prompt selfless giving a. The empathy-altruism hypothesis 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 ina wide variety of situations  Someone who helps others in a lot of different situations People’s personalities interact with the situation, which determines whether a person will help or not Gender Differences in Prosocial Behaviour Males are expected to be courageous and gentleman like, while women are expected to be nurturing and caring  Bravery medals were awarded to 36 men, but only 6 women o Awarded to those who act brave in hazardous situations  Caring Canadian award has been awarded to 59 women and 35 men o Awarded to those who volunteer their time to care for others Women tend to be more focused on close relationships, and are more optimistic Socioeconomic Status Differences in Prosocial Behaviour Those who are lower in socioeconomic status are more concerned for the needs of others, and are therefore more likely to engage in prosocial behaviours  Lower SES are more likely to donate larger amounts to charities than those of high SES Cultural Differences in Prosocial Behaviour People are more likely to help people who are members of their in-group  The group with which an individual identifies, and of which he or she feels a member – person is a group member o More likely to emphasize for in-group members = increased helping People are less likely to help people who are members of an out-group  A group in with which the individual does not identify with – person is not a group member Collectivist cultures are more likely to help in-group members as opposed to out-group members  Collectivist cultures stress the importance of interdependence within their own group o Collectivist cultures score lower in altruism Religion and Prosocial Behaviour Religion = do onto others as you would have them do unto you  Religious people are more likely to engage in prosocial behaviours o E.g., donating to charity and volunteering Religious people engage in prosocial behaviour for the benefit of themselves and are less likely to engage in such behaviours when there is no one
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