Chapter 9: Aggression
What is aggression?
aggression as physical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm.
o excludes unintentional harm, e.g. auto accidents or sidewalk collisions;
o excludes actions that may involve pain as an unavoidable side effect of helping
someone, such as dental treatments
o includes decisions about how much to hurt someone, such as how much electric
shock to impose.
o includes destroying property, lying, and other behaviour whose goal is to hurt.
two distinct types of aggression.
o Animals exhibit social aggression, characterized by displays of rage, and silent
aggression, as when a predator stalks its prey. Two involve separate brain
In humans, two types ―hostile‖ and ―instrumental‖ aggression.
o Hostile aggression springs from anger; its goal is to injure.
E.g. murder: are impulsive and emotional outbursts
Some murders other violent acts of retribution and sexual coercion are
o Instrumental aggression aims to injure too—but only as a means to some other
E.g. terrorism, final goal is to compel liberal democracies to withdraw
War: U.S. and British leaders justified attacking Iraq not as a hostile effort
to kill Iraqis but as an instrumental act of liberation and of self-defence
against presumed weapons of mass destruction.
Hostile aggression is “hot”; instrumental aggression is “cool.”
Aggression is defined as verbal or physical behaviour intended to cause harm
Aggression manifests itself in two forms: hostile aggression, which springs from
emotions such as anger and intends to injure, and instrumental aggression, which is a
means to some other end.
Theories of aggression
Instinct theory and evolutionary psychology
Freud: human aggression springs from a self-destructive impulse. It redirects toward
others the energy of a primitive death urge (the ―death instinct‖). Lorenz: aggression is adaptive not destructive
Both agreed that aggressive energy is instinctive (unlearned and universal).
o If not discharged, it builds up until it explodes or until an appropriate stimulus
Instinct theory also fails to account for the variation in aggressiveness, from person to
person and culture to culture
o Although aggression is biologically influenced, human propensity to aggress does
not qualify as instinctive behaviour.
o Natural Selection: men have inherited from their successful ancestors
psychological mechanisms‖ that improve their odds of contributing their genes to
researchers have found neural systems in both animals and humans that facilitate
o activate these areas in the brain, hostility increases; deactivate them, hostility
o after receiving painless electrical stimulation in her amygdala woman became
enraged and smashed her guitar
abnormal brains can contribute to abnormally aggressive behaviour
o prefrontal cortex (emergency brake on primitive areas) was 14 percent less active
than normal in murderers and 15 percent smaller in the antisocial men.
Heredity influences the neural system's sensitivity to aggressive cues.
o normal mice was bred with most aggressive ones and the least aggressive ones
together. After 26 generations, she had one set of fierce mice and one set of placid
A person's temperament, observed in infancy, usually endures. A child who is non-
aggressive at age 8 will very likely still be non-aggressive at age 48
Of convicted criminals who are twins, fully half of their identical twins (but only one in
five fraternal twins) also have criminal records
genes predispose some children to be more sensitive and responsive to maltreatment.
Nature and nurture interact.
Blood chemistry also influences neural sensitivity to aggressive stimulation.
o unleashes aggression when people are provoked o enhances aggressiveness by reducing people's self-awareness, by focusing their
attention on a provocation
o deindividuates, and it disinhibits.
o human aggressiveness does correlate with the male sex hormone, testosterone
Drugs that diminish testosterone levels in violent human males will
subdue their aggressive tendencies
those with high testosterone levels are more prone to delinquency, hard
drug use, and aggressive responses to provocation
o low level of the neurotransmitter serotonin, for which the impulse-controlling
frontal lobes have many receptors found among violence-prone children and
o increases their response to aversive events and willingness to deliver supposed
electric shocks or to retaliate against unfairness
interaction b/w biology and behaviour
o traffic between testosterone, serotonin, and behaviour flows both ways.
o Testosterone may facilitate dominance and aggressiveness; but dominating or
defeating behaviour also boosts testosterone levels
o neural, genetic, and biochemical influences predispose some people to react
aggressively to conflict and provocation.
Aggression as a response to frustration
frustration-aggression theory: Frustration always leads to some form of aggression,‖
o Frustration is anything (such as the malfunctioning vending machine) that blocks
our attainment of a goal.
o Frustration grows when our motivation to achieve a goal is very strong, when we
expected gratification, and when the blocking is complete.
aggressive energy need not explode directly against its source. We learn to inhibit direct
retaliation and displace our hostilities to safer targets.
displacement: redirection of aggression onto someone other than the original source of
frustration. New target generally safer or more socially acceptable
frustration-aggression theory revised
mixed results: Sometimes frustration increased aggressiveness, sometimes not
if someone frustrates us, we are less likely to respond aggressively if that person
apologizes, accepts responsibility, or otherwise tries to make amends
Berkowitz: frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress. Anger arises
when someone who frustrates us could have chosen to act otherwise Frustration may be unrelated to deprivation.
frustration is in the eye of the beholder.
o Objective reality may have little to do with people's experience of frustration, but
even irrational frustration can lead to devastating violence.
frustration arises from the gap between expectations and attainments.
o When your expectations are fulfilled by your attainments, and when your desires
are reachable at your income, you feel satisfied rather than frustrated
Frustration is often compounded when we compare ourselves to others: relative
o Workers' feelings of well-being depend on whether their compensation is
equitable compared to others in their line of work
relative deprivation: predict the reactions to perceived inequities by minority groups
o women who make less than men working in the same occupations feel underpaid
only if they compare themselves with male rather than female colleagues
One possible source of such frustration today is the affluence depicted in television
programs and commercials.
o In cultures where television is a universal appliance, it helps turn absolute
deprivation (lacking what others have) into relative deprivation (feeling deprived).
o cities where television ownership became widespread, larceny theft rate jumped
Aggression as a socially-learned behaviour
learning also ―pulls‖ aggression out of us, instead of being merely ―pushed‖ by instinct
Rewards of aggression
child whose aggressive acts successfully intimidate other children will likely become
teenage hockey players whose fathers applaud physically aggressive play show the most
aggressive attitudes and style of play
aggression is instrumental in achieving certain rewards.
Observational learning Bandura: proposed a social learning theory of aggression.
o we learn aggression not only by experiencing its payoffs but also by observing
o we acquire aggression by watching others act and noting the consequences.
Bobo doll: adult gets up and for almost 10 minutes attacks the inflated doll. She pounds it
with the mallet, kicks it, and throws it, all the while yelling
o After observing this outburst, the child goes to a different room with many very
attractive toys, cannot touch
o frustrated child now goes into another room with various toys for aggressive and
non-aggressive play, two of which are a Bobo doll and a mallet.
o Those who had observed the aggressive adult were many times more likely to
pick up the mallet and lash out at the doll.
Bandura (1979) believed that everyday life exposes us to aggressive models in the family,
in one's subculture, and in the mass media.
o Physically aggressive children tend to have physically punitive parents; modelled
aggression by disciplining them with screaming, slapping, and beating
o Family influence also appears in higher violence rates in cultures and in families
with absentee fathers
o The point is also not that father absence causes violence; is simply that there is a
correlation: Where and when fathers are absent, the violence risk increases.
o In communities where ―macho‖ images are admired, aggression is readily
transmitted to new generations
o violent subculture of teenage gangs, for instance, provides its junior members
with aggressive models.
o American cities and areas populated by southerners (swashbuckling, honour-
preserving folk who were aggressive hunters and herders) have higher than
average homicide rates.
o In a narrow corridor on the way to an experiment, a confederate bumped into
participants and insulted them by calling them a rude name.
The insult had very little effect on the northerners.
Southerners reacted with anger, more physiologically aroused, and gave
stronger shocks to another confederate
o People learn aggressive responses both by experience and by observing
aggressive models , ut whether we act aggressively depends on the consequences
Aggression is most likely when we are aroused and it seems safe and
rewarding to aggress. Influences on aggression
Nathan Azrin (1967) was doing experiments with laboratory rats in a cage wired to
deliver shocks to the animals' feet.
o As soon as the rats felt pain, they attacked each other, before the experimenter
could switch off the shock. The greater the shock (and pain), the more violent the
o researchers found that with a wide variety of species, the cruelty the animals
imposed on each other matched zap for zap the cruelty imposed on them
shocks weren't the only stimuli that induced attack; intense heat and ―psychological pain
(FRUSTRATION) brought the same reaction as shocks. This ―psychological pain‖ is, of
Pain heightens aggressiveness in humans
o Berkowitz: having students hold one hand in lukewarm water or painfully cold
o Those whose hands were submerged in the cold water reported feeling more
irritable and annoyed, more willing to blast another person with unpleasant noise.
Frustration one important type of unpleasantness. But any aversive event, a dashed
expectation, a personal insult, or physical pain, can incite an emotional outburst.
Temporary climate variations canaffect behaviour. Offensive odours, cigarette smoke,
and air pollution have all been linked with aggressive behaviour
William Griffitt: compared to students who answered questionnaires in a room with a
normal temperature, those who did so in an uncomfortably hot room (over 32°C/90°F)
reported feeling more tired and aggressive and expressed more hostility toward a
Although the conclusion appears plausible, these correlations between temperature and
aggression don't prove heat discomfort directly fuels aggressiveness
Being attacked or insulted by someone is especially conducive to aggression.
intentional attacks breed retaliatory attacks
Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer: we can experience an aroused bodily state in
different ways. They aroused men by injecting adrenalin, produced body flushing, heart palpitation, and
more rapid breathing.
When forewarned about these effects, the men felt little emotion, even when waiting with
either a hostile or a euphoric person b/c could readily attribute their bodily sensations to
led another group of men to believe the drug produced no such side effects. They were
angered when with the hostile person, amused when with the person who was euphoric.
The principle: A given state of bodily arousal feeds one emotion or another, depending
on how the person interprets and labels the arousal.
Biner (1991) reported that subjects found radio static unpleasant, especially when they
were aroused by bright lighting.
Dolf Zillmann: people who had just pumped an exercise bike or watched Beatles rock
concert found it easy to misattribute their arousal to a provocation.
o then retaliated with heightened aggression
erotic stimuli are more arousing to people who have just been frightened.
A frustrating, hot, or insulting situation heightens arousal. Arousal, combined with hostile
thoughts and feelings, may form a recipe for aggressive behaviour
violence is more likely when aggressive cues release pent-up anger.
Leonard Berkowitz: the sight of a weapon is such a cue. Children who had just played
with toy guns became more willing to knock down another child's blocks.
angered University of Wisconsin men gave more electric shocks to their tormenter when
a rifle and a revolver were nearby than when badminton racquets had been left behind
Guns prime hostile thoughts and punitive judgments
countries that ban handguns have lower murder rates
increased rates of criminal violence, including sexual coercion, coincided with increased
availability of violent and sexual material in the media
sexual script in media and porn: she resists, he persists
viewing such fictional scenes of a man overpowering and arousing a woman can
o (a) distort one's perceptions of how women actually respond to sexual coercion
o (b) increase men's aggression against women.
Distorted perceptions of sexual reality Researchers have observed a correlation between amount of TV viewing and rape myth
(no means yes) acceptance
University of Manitoba men watched either two non-sexual movies or two movies
depicting a man sexually overcoming a woman.
o A week later, those who saw the films with sexual violence were more accepting
of violence against women.
while spending three evenings watching sexually violent movies, male viewers became
progressively less bothered by the raping and slashing.
Aggression against women
correlational studies: pornography contributes to men's actual aggression toward women
o as pornography became widely available, the rate of reported rapes sharply
o sales of sexually explicit magazines correlated with rape rates
o sexual offenders commonly acknowledge pornography use.
Experimental studies: Donnerstein showed 120 men a neutral, an erotic, or an aggressive-
erotic (rape) film.
o the men ―taught‖ a male or female confederate some nonsense syllables by
choosing how much shock to administer for incorrect answers.
o men who had watched the rape film administered markedly stronger shocks
especially when angered and with a female confederate.
Media awareness education
pornography researchers have successfully resensitized and educated participants to
women's actual responses to sexual violence.
By sensitizing people to the view of women that predominates in pornography and to
issues of sexual harassment and violence, it should be possible to counter the myth that
women enjoy being coerced Television influences
TV‘s effects on behaviour
Correlational studies: The more violent the content of the child's TV viewing, the more
aggressive the child
test the ―hidden third factor‖ explanation by statistically pulling out the influence of some
of these possible factors.
o heavy and light viewers still differed after equating them with respect to potential
third factors. the heavy viewers were, indeed, more violent because of their TV
viewing violence at age 8 modestly predicted aggressiveness at age 19, but that
aggressiveness at age 8 did not predict viewing violence at age 19.
o Aggression followed viewing, not the reverse.
o By age 30, those who had watched the most violence in childhood were more
likely to have been convicted of a serious crime.
TV viewing experiments: angered university students who viewed a violent film acted
more aggressively than did similarly angered students who viewed non-aggressive films.
The irrefutable conclusion,‖ is ―that viewing violence increases violence.‖
TV’s affects on behaviour: viewing violence disinhibits; that is, it lowers inhibitions:
o Viewing violence primes the viewer for aggressive behaviour by activating
o Media portrayals also evoke imitation. The children in Bandura's experiments re-
enacted the specific behaviours they had witnessed.
o modelling prosocial behaviour should be socially beneficial.
TV‘s effects on thinking
desensitization: emotional numbing after repeated experience
o Cline measured the physiological arousal of boys who watched a brutal boxing
match: responses of those who watched habitually were more a shrug than a
Social scripts: culturally provided mental instructions for how to act.
o after viewing multiple sexual innuendoes youths may acquire sexual scripts they
later enact in real-life relationships
o the more sexual content that adolescents view, the more likely they are to perceive
their peers as sexually active, to develop sexually permissive attitudes, and to
experience early intercourse
o heavy viewers are more likely than light viewers to exaggerate the frequency of
violence in the world around them and to fear being personally assaulted. Cognitive priming: watching violent videos primes networks of aggressive-related ideas
After viewing violence, people offer more hostile explanations for others', interpret
spoken homonyms with the more aggressive meaning and recognize aggressive words
Effects of violent video games
Playing violent video games, more than playing non-violent games:
o increases arousal. Heart rate and blood pressure rise.
o increases aggressive thinking: after playing games, university students became
more likely to guess that a man whose car was just rear-ended would respond
o increases aggressive feelings. Frustration levels rise, as does expressed hostility,
although the hostile feelings subside within a few minutes after ending the game
o increases aggressive behaviours: children and youth play more aggressively with
their peers, get into more arguments with their teachers, and participate in more
even when controlling for personality and temperament, exposure to video
game violence desensitizes people to cruelty and increases aggressive
Groups can amplify aggressive reactions partly by diffusing responsibility.
asked their university student participants either to shock someone or to advise someone
how much shock to administer.
o When the recipient was innocent of any provocation, the advisers recommended
more shock than given by the front-line participants, who felt more directly
responsible for any hurt.
Diffusion of responsibility increases not only with distance but with numbers.
o The more people in a lynch mob, the more vicious the murder and mutilation.
Through social ―contagion,‖ (group-fed arousal, disinhibition, and polarization) groups
magnify aggressive tendencies, much as they polarize other tendencies.
Group influences also contribute to genocide. Massacres are social phenomena fed by
―moral imperatives‖—a collective mentality that mobilizes a group or a culture
university men angered by a supposed fellow subject retaliated with decisions to give
much stronger shocks when in groups than when alone.
SUMMING UP: WHAT ARE SOME INFLUENCES ON AGGRESSION? One factor influencing aggression is aversive experiences, which include not only
frustrations but also discomfort, pain, and personal attacks, both physical and verbal.
Arousal from almost any source, even physical exercise or sexual stimulation, can be
transformed into anger.
Aggressive cues, such as the presence of a gun, increase the likelihood of aggressive
Viewing violence (1) breeds a modest increase in aggressive behaviour, especially in
people who are provoked, (2) desensitizes viewers to aggression, and (3) alters viewers'
perceptions of reality. These findings parallel the results of research on the effects of
viewing violent pornography, which can increase men's aggression against women and
distort their perceptions of women's responses to sexual coercion.
Television permeates the daily life of millions of people and portrays considerable
violence. Correlational and experimental studies converge on the conclusion that heavy
exposure to televised violence correlates with aggressive behaviour.
Repeatedly playing violent video games may increase aggressive thinking, feelings, and
behaviour even more than television or movies do, as the experience involves much more
active participation than the other media require.
Circumstances that provoke individuals may also provoke groups. By diffusing
responsibility and polarizing actions, group situations can amplify aggressive reactions.
―hydraulic model,‖ which implies accumulated aggressive energy, like dammed-up
water, needs a release.
near consensus among social psychologists is that—contrary to what Freud, Lorenze, and
their followers supposed—viewing or participating in violence fails to produce catharsis
Bushman invited angered participants to hit a punching bag while either ruminating about
the person who angered them or thinking about becoming physically fit. A third group
did not hit the punching bag.
o when told to administer loud blasts of noise to the person who angered them,
people in the ―punching bag plus rumination‖ condition felt angrier and were
most aggressive. Moreover, doing nothing at all more effectively reduced
Expressing hostility bred more hostility.
Social learning approach
we should reward cooperative, non-aggressive behaviour children become less aggressive when caregivers ignore their aggressive behaviour and
reinforce their non-aggressive behaviour
Punishing the aggressor is less consistently effective.
Threatened punishment deters aggression only when the punishment is strong, prompt,
and sure; when it is combined with reward for the desired behaviour; and when the
recipient is not angry
We must teach non-aggressive conflict-resolution strategies
Physical punishment=negative side effects. Punishment is aversive stimulation; it models
the behaviour it seeks to prevent.
model and reward sensitivity and cooperation from an early age, perhaps by training
parents how to discipline without violence.
Aggressive stimuli also trigger aggression. This suggests reducing the availability of
weapons such as handguns
SUMMING UP: HOW CAN AGGRESSION BE REDUCED?
Contrary to the catharsis hypothesis, expressing aggression by catharsis tends to breed
further aggression, not reduce it.
The social learning approach suggests controlling aggression by counteracting the factors
that provoke it: by reducing aversive stimulation, by rewarding and modelling non-
aggression, and by eliciting reactions incompatible with aggression. Chapter 8: altruism
Altruism is selfishness in reverse. An altruistic person is concerned and helpful even
when no benefits are offered or expected in return.
Why do we help: theories
assumes that human interactions are guided by a ―social economics.‖ We exchange not
only material goods and money but also social goods—love, services, information, status
Social-exchange theory does not contend that we consciously monitor costs and rewards,
only that such considerations predict our behaviour.
Rewards that motivate helping may be external or internal: We give to get.
o E.g. When businesses donate money to improve their corporate images or when
someone offers someone else a ride hoping to receive appreciation or friendship
Rewards may also be internal. Helping increases our sense of self-worth.
Making donations activates brain areas linked with reward: Generous people are happier
than those whose spending is self-focused.
o people received an envelope with cash that some were instructed to spend on
themselves, while others were directed to spend it on other people. At the day's
end, the happiest people were those assigned to the spend-it-on-others
weakness in social-exchange theory: It easily degenerates into explaining-by-naming
o Because of this circular reasoning, egoism—the idea that self-interest motivates
all behaviour—has fallen into disrepute among researchers.
If social approval motivates helping, then in experiments we should find that when
approval follows helping, helping increases. And it does
o Distress is not the only negative emotion we act to reduce
o psychologists have induced people to transgress: to lie, to deliver shock, to lie
guilt-laden participants may be offered a way to relieve their guilt: by
confessing, by disparaging the one harmed, or by doing a good deed to
offset the bad one.
Result? People will do whatever can be done to expunge the guilt and
restore their self-image. o David McMillen and James Austin: ppl taking experiment, a confederate enters,
says experiment involves taking a multiple-choice test, most of the correct
answers are ―B.‖ The experimenter arrives, and then asks, ―Has either of you been
in this experiment before or heard anything about it?‖
o On average, those who had not been induced to lie volunteered only two minutes
of time. Those who had lied were apparently eager to redeem their self-image; on
average, they offered a whopping 63 minutes.
o eagerness to do good after doing bad reflects both our need to reduce private guilt
and to restore our shaken self-image and our desire to reclaim a positive public
o Among adults, the inner rewards of altruism can offset other negative moods
Exceptions to the feel bad–do good scenario
o anger, produces anything but compassion
o depression, which is characterized by brooding self-concern
o Yet another exception is profound grief, often undergo a period of intense self-
preoccupation, a state that makes it difficult to be giving
Feel good- do good: when ppl induced to feel happy, they are more likely to help
o Helping softens a bad mood and sustains a good mood.
o A positive mood is, in turn, conducive to positive thoughts and positive self-
esteem, which predispose us to positive behaviour
o Positive thinkers are likely to be positive actors
Norms are social expectations.
o prescribe proper behaviour, the oughts of our lives.
o two social norms that motivate altruism: the reciprocity norm and the social-
One universal moral code is a norm of reciprocity: To those who help us, we should
return help, not harm.
o Mail surveys and solicitations sometimes include a little gift—individualized
address labels, for example—assuming some people will reciprocate the favour.
Reciprocity within social networks helps define the ―social capital‖ that keeps a
community healthy. E.g. Neighbours keeping an eye on each other's homes
norm operates most effectively as people respond publicly to deeds earlier done to them
When people cannot reciprocate, they may feel threatened and demeaned by accepting
aid. Thus, proud, high self-esteem people are often reluctant to seek help o can happen to beneficiaries of affirmative action, especially when affirmative
action fails to affirm the person's competence and chances for future success
Social responsibility norm
With people who clearly are dependent and unable to reciprocate, such as children, the
severely impoverished, and those with disabilities, another social norm motivates our
social-responsibility norm is the belief that people should help those who need help,
without regard to future exchanges
Among Westerners, usually apply the social-responsibility norm selectively to those
whose need appears not to be due to their own negligence.
o Esp. political conservatives: Give people what they deserve. If they are victims of
circumstance, like natural disaster, be generous. If they seem to have created their
own problems (by laziness, immorality, or lack of foresight, for example), then
they don't deserve help.
Gender and altruism: Women offered help equally to males and females, whereas men
offered more help when the strangers in need were females.
o men's chivalry toward lone women may have been motivated by something other
than altruism. Mating motives increase men's displays of heroism
o Women receive more offers of help in certain situations; they also seek more help
contends that the essence of life is gene survival.
Our genes drive us in ways that have maximized their chance of survival.
Genes that predispose individuals to self-sacrifice in the interests of strangers' welfare
would not survive in the evolutionary competition.
Genetic selfishness should, however, predispose us toward two specific types of selfless
or even self-sacrificial altruism: kin protection and reciprocity.
Our genes dispose us to care for relatives. Thus, one form of self-sacrifice that would
increase gene survival is devotion to one's children.
parents who put their children's welfare ahead of their own are more likely to pass their
Genetic egoism fosters parental altruism
children have less at stake in the survival of their parents' genes. Thus, parents will
generally be more devoted to their children than their children are to them.
Kin selection—favouritism toward those who share our genes
o E.g. identical twins are noticeably more mutually supportive point is not that we calculate genetic relatedness before helping but that nature (as well as
culture) programs us to care about close relatives.
In the aftermath of natural disasters and other life-and-death situations, the order of who
gets helped: the children before the old, family members before friends, neighbours
before strangers. Helping stays close to home.
Some evolutionary psychologists note that kin selection predisposes ethnic in-group
favouritism—kin selection is ―the enemy of civilization.
Genetic self-interest also predicts reciprocity. One organism helps another because it
expects help in return.
The giver expects later to be the getter, whereas failure to reciprocate is punished
Reciprocity works best in small, isolated groups, groups in which one will often see the
people for whom one does favours.
o Sociable female baboons gain a reproductive advantage: Their infants more often
live to see a first birthday
o If a vampire bat has gone a day or two without food, it asks a well-fed nestmate to
regurgitate food for a meal
Small schools, towns, churches, work teams, and dorms are all conducive to a community
spirit in which people care for each other.
then why will we help strangers? Darwin: group selection: When groups are in
competition, groups of mutually supportive altruists outlast groups of non-altruists
another basis of unreciprocated altruism: Human societies evolved ethical and religious
rules that serve as brakes on the biological bias toward self-interest.
Comparing theories of altruism
Batson: our willingness to help is influenced by both self-serving and selfless
considerations Distress over someone's suffering motivates us to relieve our upset, either by escaping the
distressing situation or by helping
But, especially when we feel attached to someone, we also feel empathy
In humans, empathy comes naturally.
humans are hardwired for empathy. Primates and even mice also display empathy,
indicating that the building blocks of altruism predate humanity
o rhesus monkeys refused to operate a device that gained them food if it would
cause another monkey to receive an electric shock
studies of empathy: researchers aroused empathy, noted whether the aroused people
would reduce their own distress by escaping or help. The results: Their empathy aroused,
they usually helped.
o had women observe a young woman suffering while she supposedly received
o upset victim explained accident left her acutely sensitive to shocks.
o half of these actual subjects believed that the suffering person was a kindred spirit
on matters of values and interests
o Some also were led to believe that their part in the experiment was completed
o all these student observers willingly offered to substitute for the victim.
Mark Schaller and Robert Cialdini (1988) doubted that empathy could evoke genuine
o Feeling empathy for a sufferer makes one sad
o if we feel empathy but know that something else (besides helping) will make us
feel better, we aren't so likely to help.
SUMMING UP: WHY DO WE HELP?
Three theories explain helping behaviour.
1. The social-exchange theory assumes that helping, like other social behaviours, is
motivated by a desire to maximize rewards, which may be external or internal.
Thus, after wrongdoing, people often become more willing to offer help. Sad
people also tend to be helpful. Finally, there is a striking feel good–do good
effect: Happy people are helpful people.
2. Social norms also mandate helping.
The reciprocity norm stimulates us to help those who have helped us.
The social-responsibility norm beckons us to help needy people, even if
they cannot reciprocate, as long as they are deserving.
3. Evolutionary psychology assumes two types of helping:
devotion to kin and reciprocity.
genes of selfish individuals are more likely to survive than the genes of
self-sacrificing individuals. Thus, selfishness is our natural tendency and
society must, therefore, teach helping. We can evaluate these three theories according to the ways in which they characterize
prosocial behaviour as based on tit-for-tat exchange and/or unconditional helpfulness.
Each can be criticized for using speculative or after-the-fact reasoning, but they do
provide a coherent scheme for summarizing observations of prosocial behaviour.
In addition to helping that is motivated by external and internal rewards, and the evading
of punishment or distress, there appears also to be a genuine, empathy-based altruism.
With their empathy aroused, many people are motivated to assist others in need or
distress, even when their helping is anonymous or their own mood will be unaffected.
When will we help?
Number of bystanders
Latané and John Darley staged ingenious emergencies and found that a single situational
factor—the presence of other bystanders—greatly decreased intervention.
―accidentally‖ dropped coins or pencils during 1497 elevator rides,
o helped 40 percent of the time when one other person was on the elevator
o and less than 20 percent of the time when there were six passengers.
WHY?? as the number of bystanders increases, any given bystander is less likely to
notice the incident, less likely to interpret the incident as a problem or emergency, and
less likely to assume responsibility for taking action
Are less alert when others are around
Latané and Darley (1968) had men fill out a questionnaire in a room, either by
themselves or with two strangers.
While they were working there was a staged emergency: Smoke poured into the room
Lone students, who often glanced idly about the room, noticed the smoke in less than five
Those in groups kept their eyes on their work. It took them about 20 seconds notice
Once we notice an ambiguous event, we must interpret it.
informational influence: Each person uses others' behaviour as clues to reality.
glance at the others who look calm, indifferent. Assuming everything must be okay, you
shrug it off and go back to work, other misinterpret you the same way
misinterpretations are fed by an illusion of transparency—a tendency to overestimate
others' ability to ―read‖ our internal states, appear to others to be keeping cool
o result is pluralistic ignorance—the assumption that others are thinking and
feeling what we are. o Thus, in emergencies, each person may think ―I'm very concerned,‖ but perceive
others as not looking alarmed—―so maybe it's not an emergency.‖
in only three of the eight groups did even a single person leave to report the smoke
To see if the same bystander effect occurs in other situations, Latané and Judith Rodin
(1969) staged an experiment around a woman in distress.
o A female researcher set men to work on a questionnaire and then left
o later, she could be heard screaming and a loud crash as the chair collapsed and she
fell to the floor. ―Oh, my God, my foot … I … I … can't move it,‖ she sobbed.
o 70% who were alone came into the room or called out to offer help.
o Among pairs of strangers confronting the emergency, only 40 percent
o Those who did nothing apparently interpreted the situation as a non-emergency.
―A mild sprain,
o demonstrates the bystander effect: As the number of people known to be aware
of an emergency increases, any given person becomes less likely to help. For the
victim, there is no safety in numbers.
Darley and Latané (1968) simulated the Genovese drama, placed people in separate
rooms from which the participants would hear a victim crying for help.
o During the ensuing discussion, the participants heard one person lapse into an
epileptic seizure with increasing intensity and speech difficulty, pleaded help
o Of those led to believe they were the only listener, 85 percent left to seek help.
o Of those who believed four others also overheard the victim, only 31 percent
o participants almost invariably denied the influence of presence of others
most ppl don‘t act b/c they think situation is ambiguous
experiments in which people either saw and heard someone's distress, or only heard it, as
o When the emergencies were very clear, those in groups were only slightly less
likely to help than were those alone.
o When the emergencies were somewhat ambiguous, however, the subjects in
groups were far less likely to help than were solitary bystanders
Compassion fatigue and sensory overload from encountering so many people in need
further restrain helping in large cities
Robert Levine approached several thousand people in 36 cities, dropping an unnoticed
pen, asking for change, simulating a blind person needing help at a corner, and so forth.
o The bigger and more densely populated the city, the less likely people were to
help, ppl in part b/c person is stranger, don‘t identify w/ them
o People in economically advanced countries tended to offer less help to strangers
***therefore, diffusion of responsibility key reason of decreasing help
Helping when someone else does elevation, ―a distinctive feeling in the chest of warmth and expansion‖ that may provoke
chills, tears, and throat-clenching and that often inspires people to become more self-
Experiments show that children learn moral judgments from both what they hear
preached and what they see practised
A person not in a hurry may stop and offer help to a person in distress. A person in a
hurry is likely to keep going.
Batson directed 40 university students to an experiment in another building.
Half were told they were late; half knew they had plenty of time.
Half thought their participation was vitally important to the experimenter; half thought it
was not essential.
The results: Those on their way to an unimportant appointment usually stopped to help.
But people seldom stopped to help if they were late for a very important date.
o In their hurry, they never fully grasped the situation.
o Harried, preoccupied, rushing to meet a deadline, they simply did not take time to
tune in to the person in need.
o their behaviour was influenced more by context than by conviction.
Similarity to the victim
similarity is conducive to liking, and liking is conducive to helping, we are more
empathic and helpful toward those similar to us
o applies to both dress and beliefs
Tim Emswiller had confederates, dressed either conservatively or in counter-culture garb,
approach ―conservative‖ or ―hip‖ students seeking money for a phone call.
o Fewer than half the students did the favour for those dressed differently than
o Two-thirds did so for those dressed similarly.
Ppl were more trusting and generous when the other person's pictured face had some
features of their own morphed into it
just sharing a birthday, a first name, or a fingerprint pattern leads people to respond more
to a request for help
SUMMING UP: WHEN WILL WE HELP?
Several situational influences work to inhibit or to encourage altruism. As the number of
bystanders at an emergency increases, any given bystander is (1) less likely to notice the
incident, (2) less likely to interpret it as an emergency, and (3) less likely to assume
responsibility. Experiments on helping behaviour pose an ethical dilemma but fulfill the researcher's mandate to enhance human life by uncovering important influences on
When are people most likely to help? One circumstance that promotes helping is to
observe someone else helping.
Another circumstance that promotes helping is having at least a little spare time; those in
a hurry are less likely to help.
We tend to help those whom we perceive as being similar to us.
Although the social context clearly influenced willingness to help, there was no definable
set of altruistic personality traits
BUT…found individual differences in helpfulness, and they have shown that these
differences persist over time and are noticed by a person's peers
o i.e. Some people are reliably more helpful.
Those high in emotionality, empathy, and self-efficacy are most likely to be concerned
Third, personality influences how particular people react to particular situations
o Those high in self-monitoring are attuned to th