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Chapter 12

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Western University
Psychology 2720A/B
Clive Seligman

CHAPTER 12: HELPFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR Helpful Behaviour • Helping: behaviour that is intended to assist another person • Prosocial Behaviour: any action that provides benefit to others • Prosocial behaviour encompasses helping, but it also includes actions that are not necessarily intended to assist others • Types of Helping • McGuire proposed that the behaviours fell into four major categories • These categories consisted of casual helping, emergency helping, substantial personal helping, and emotional helping • Causal and emergency helping typically involve strangers, whereas substantial personal helping and emotional helping typically involve family or friends • Causal helping and emotional helping can be relatively simple to perform, whereas substantial personal helping and emergency helping are potentially more difficult • Philip Pearce and Paul Amato identified three dimensions along which helping behaviours very • The first dimension is the degree to which helping is planned or formal versus spontaneous or informal • The second dimension of helping situations involves the seriousness of the problem • The third dimension involves a distinction between “giving what you have” and “doing what you can” • Casual helping is typically unplanned and not seriously it can involve either giving what you have or doing what you can • Emergency helping is also usually unplanned, but it is serious and always involved doing what you can • Substantial personal helping is typically planned; it is often serious and can involve either giving what you have or doing what you can • Emotional helping is usually planned and involves doing what you can; i can be wither serious or not serious • Altruism, Versus Egoism • Two basic explanations have been proposed to account for helping behaviours • Help Others and Help Yourself •One consequence of helping others is that it makes you feel good too •It does not take long for us to learn that helping is associated with rewards and other positive outcomes, and that not helping is associated with punishments and other negative outcomes •Egotistic Motivation: a motive for helping in order to obtain rewards or avoid punishments • Helping Others for Others’ Sake •Altruistic Motivation: a motive for helping purely for the sake of providing benefit to another person •The distinction between egotistic and altruistic motivations for helping, however, is not clear-cut •It is quite possible that both motivations contribute simultaneously - a mixture of altruism and egoism • The Evolution of Altruism CHAPTER 12: HELPFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR •One explanation is an evolutionary one •Inclusive Fitness: the principle that some social behaviour have been selected during the course of evolution because they increase the survival of our genes •Inclusive fitness may explain why people are wiling to sacrifice their own personal resources (including their lives) in favor of offspring and other close genetic relatives •Other research has shown that people provide more social support to close relatives than to distant relatives and say they would distribute more money form a lottery win to close relatives than to distant relatives •Kathy Denton argued that humans evolved to behave in ways that uphold systems of cooperation among members of a band or larger groups •Empathy: the ability to comprehend how another person is experiencing a situation •Empathy for someone in need increases the likelihood that an individual will be helpful to that person •We are more likely to feel empathy with others who are similar to us because their similarity makes it easier to imagine what they are feeling •Empathy is also easier with familiar others because our knowledge of them makes it easier to put ourselves in their shoes • Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis •Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: the idea that feelings of empathy for a person can lead to behaviour that is motivated solely by wanting to help that person •On the other hand, the empathy-helping relationship can be interpreted as yet another version of egotistic motivation •In both of the high-empathy conditions, in which altruistic motivation was presumably aroused, more than 80% of the participants offered to trade places with Elaine, irrespective of how easy it was for them to escape •In the low-empathy conditions, helping depended on ease of escape •Combination of high empathy and easy escape factors that is hypothesized to reflect altruistic motivation when people help •Challenged this interpretation suggesting that the combination of high empathy and a suffering victim causes observers to feel sadness, when when escape is easy •People don;’t like to feel sad and will often help a victim in distress in an effort to make themselves feel better - an egotistic rather than altruistic motivation for helping • An Unresolved Debate • Factors Influencing Helping • Six factors that influence helping behaviour • Social Norms •One explanation for helping behaviour, perhaps especially low-cost helping, is that it is prescribed by social norms •Norm of Social Responsibility: the rule or guideline that we should help those who need help, if possible •Another social norm is the norm of reciprocity CHAPTER 12: HELPFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR • Personal Norms: guidelines that have been internalized to become expectations for oneself in particular situations • If you have internalized the norm of social responsibility, an you see it as appropriate or fitting in a particular helping situation, then you are likely to help • On the other hand, if you haven or adopted this norm as an important personal value, or you don’t see it as applying in the situation, then you are less likely to help • Modeling Helpful Behaviour • Observing the actions of a helpful model increases individual’s helpfulness • The effect of models can be seen in the influence of parents on their children’s helpfulness • Blaming the Victim • People are more receptive to the requests of victims who did not get themselves into trouble in the first place • If victims brought about their own problems, then observers tend to blame them and are less likely to offer help • Just World Theory: a model proposing that humans need to believe that the world is a fair place where people generally get what they deserve • The belief in a just world can sometimes interfere with helping • If helping is not an option, then people may protect their belief by convincing themselves wither that the victims did something to cause their own suffering or that the victims are “bad people” who, in some sense, deserve to suffer • People sometimes look for reasons to blame victims so they do not have to offer help • Aaron Kay suggested that people want to believe that the society in which they live is fair; the authors labelled attempts to confirm this belief system justification • Good Mood • The effects of a good mood on helping have been replicated many times and seem to last for about 10 minutes after the positive mood has been induced • Guilt • People will not only try to rectify the victims misfortune, but they will also be more helpful to others whom they did not affect • Individual Differences in Helping: The Altruistic Personality • Some people just seem to have a helpful personality • Other people prefer to mind their own business and do not typically show much empathy or concern about others’ needs • Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI): a measure of reflecting the extent to which people feel empathy in response to others’ experiences • The IRI has four parts or subscales: • Perspective Taking - measures the extent to which a person routinely takes the point of view of others • Empathic Concern - measures the tendency of a person to experience sympathy or compassion for others • Personal Distress - reflects the degree to which a person experiences distress or discomfort in response to another’s extreme distress CHAPTER 12: HELPFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR • Fantasy - reflects a tendency to imagine oneself in hypothetical situations • Volunteerism • Volunteerism: unpaid helping behaviour that is given willingly to a worthwhile cause or organization • Volunteerism falls into the category of substantial personal helping • Allen Omoto and Mark Snyder proposed five distinct reasons why people might volunteer their time and developed a scale to measure these motives • They conceptualized two of the motives as primarily other-oriented, or “humanitarian” as primarily self-oriented or egotistic motives •Values •Community concern •Understanding •Personal development •Esteem enhancement • First, satisfaction with one’s experiences as a volunteer predicted tenure • Second, Omoto and Snyder found that the relatively self-oriented, egotistic motives for being a volunteer were associated with longer tenure • Penner and Pinkelstein found that the only significant predictor of participants length of service was the other-oriented motive of values: people who joins because they enjoy helping other people tended to be long-serving volunteers • Jennifer Hall and Marnee Meyer obtained additional evidence that satisfaction with one’s experiences as a volunteer predicts helping: the extent to which participants were satisfied with their volunteer experiences strongly predicted the mount of time they donated per week • Also, the researchers found that the extent to which participants felt that their motives for joining the group had been fulfilled - whether those motives were other- oriented - predicted their satisfaction with their experiences • Emergency Helping • The Decision Tree •Decision Tree: a set of five steps that must be completed before an individual will intervene in an emergency situation 1. notice the event 2. interpret the event as an emergency 3. accept personal responsibility for helping 4. decide on an appropriate form of assistance 5. implement the action •If any of these steps does not occur, then the individual will not intervene • Notice the Event •The real world is full of distractions and complications that can interfere with attention to emergencies • Interpret the Event as an Emergency •Before people will intervene in an event, they must interpret it as an emergency •Looking at the other participants to decide whether or not the situation was serious •In real-life emergencies, it is often dangerous for people to intervene, and their inaction may sometimes be “rational” in the sense that they could be hurt CHAPTER 12: HELPFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR • Accept Personal Responsibility for Helping • The greater the number of perceived bystanders, the less likely a participant was to come to the victims aid • Personal responsibility is probably the critical factor • Participants who believed that other people were present felt less personal responsibility for helping the victim, because others could help just as well • The presence of another person does not always reduce helping • Bystander Effect: the likelihood that an individual will intervene in an emergency goes down as the number of bystanders increases • Bystander effect can be caused by the impact of bystanders on how events are interpreted, on feeling of responsibility to help, or both • Implicit bystander effect is simply thinking about being in a group produced an effect parallel to the original bystander effect • Decide on an Appropriate Form of Assistance • Even when people have noticed and interpreted an event as an emergency and accepted personal responsibility for helping, they must still decide how to intervene • People may also lack the necessary told to help, such as wen they see a boat in difficulty on the water; if they lack a means of offering help they may remain indecisive • Implement the Decision to Help • They may not implement that decision for a number of reasons • The most common cause of hesitation in real-life emergencies is perceived danger - the costs of helping are potentially too high • People may also fear “becoming involved” because, in the future, the perpetrator may seek them out or they may have to of to court to testify • Another reason people may not implement a decision to help is potential embarrassment • Improving th
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