Prosocial Behavior and Altruism
Prosocial behavior - any act performed with the goal of benefitting another person
Altruism - any act that benefits another person but does not benefit the helper
What is Altruism?
1). Jill gives a pint of blood in exchange for $10.
2). Sam attempts to save his 3 year old from drowning
3). Millie anonymously donates $5000 to a charity
4). Jim agrees to donate his eyes in case of his death.
5). Wanda, a police officer, arrests a bank robber who is fleeing a crime.
Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior: Why do people help?
A. Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology: Instincts and Genes
- Darwin: if an organism acts altruistically, it may decrease its own reproductive fitness
1. Kin Selection - idea that behaviors that help a genetic relative are favorable because shared genes are passed on.
2. Norm of reciprocity - the assumption that others will treat us the way we treat them.
- the claims of these theories are still being debated among psychologists.
B. Social Exchange Theory - The costs and rewards of helping
- Social exchange theory - much of what we do stems from the desire to maximize our outcomes and minimize our costs.
- Helping can be rewarding
1). It can increase the probability that someone will help us in return in the future
2). It can relieve the personal distress of the bystander
3). It can gain us social approval and increased self-worth
- Helping also can be costly
C. Empathy and Altruism: The pure motive for helping (Batson)
- people often help purely out of the goodness of their hearts
- Batsons empathy-altruism hypothesis states that when we feel empathy for another person, we will attempt to help purely for altruistic reasons, then social exchange concerns will come into play.
- Toi and Batson (1982)
Toi and Batson (1982):
Will Not See
did not help
DV = helping the student to catch up in class
D. Social Norms:
- Norm of Reciprocity
- Norm of Social Responsibility: people will help those dependent upon them
Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior: Why do some people
help more than others?
A. Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality
1. Rewards and Models
- Rushton (1975) - tokens to needy child study
2. Is personality the whole story?
- Altruistic Personality - the aspects of a persons makeup that make him or her likely to help others in a wide variety of situations.
- there is little evidence of consistency in altruism
B. Gender Differences
- Eagly and Crowly (1986):
- men help in chivalrous, heroic ways
- women help in nurturant ways
D. The Effects of Mood on Helping: Feel Good, Do Good
1. Feel Good, Do Good
- Isen and Levin (1972):
84% in "dime" condition helped
4% in "no dime" condition helped
2. Good moods increase helping because:
a). Good moods make us interpret events in a sympathetic way
b). Helping another prolongs the good mood, whereas not helping deflates it
c). Good moods increase self-attention
3. Feel Bad, Do Good
- Negative-state relief hypothesis - people help in order to alleviate their own sadness and distress
- Cialdini, Darby, and Vincent:
- subjects who knocked over the cards were more likely to help than those who did not
Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior: When will we help?
A. The Number of Bystanders
- Latane and Darley
- Kitty Genovese murder
- Lab study - fake seizure
- Bystander effect: the greater the number of bystanders who witness an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help.
Latane and Darleys (1970) five-step process of helping:
1. Noticing an event
- Time pressures
- Darley and Batson (1973): Good Samaritan Study
2. Interpreting an Event as an Emergency
- Pluralistic ignorance - nothing is wrong, because no one else looks concerned
- Latane and Darley (1970): fake smoke study
3. Assuming Responsibility
- Diffusion of Responsibility - each bystanders sense of responsibility to help decreases as the number of witnesses increase.
4. Knowing how to help
5. Deciding to implement the help
B. The Nature of the Relationship
- Communal Versus Exchange
How can helping be increased?
1). Make people aware of the barriers to helping; increase responsibility
- Beaman et al. (1978) - hearing about helping studies increase helping behavior
2). Teach Altruism
- teach moral inclusion
- modeling altruism
- learning about altruism
** Goal of helping is to be supportive; watch out for helping that threatens the others self-esteem