Presentation on theme: "Altruism v. Self-interest. Thomas Hobbes: “Because I was in paine to consider the miserable condition of the old man; and now my almes, giving him some."— Presentation transcript:
Altruism v. Self-interest
Thomas Hobbes: “Because I was in paine to consider the miserable condition of the old man; and now my almes, giving him some relief, doth also ease me”
Some methodological background: The third variable problem: An observed relationship between two variables is considered spurious (not real) when it is due to a third variable that was not taken into consideration. ????Accidents
TattoosAccidents TattoosAccidents Risk seeking
Oneness and empathetic concern as predictors of helping. Empathic concernHelping Oneness Empathic concernHelping
Empathic concernHelping Oneness Closeness Cialdini et al. (1997) view of empathy-altruism link
Cialdini et al. studies: Participants imagined one of four types of individuals in a need situation. The needy person was either a near stranger, an acquaintance, a good friend, or a family member (preferably a sibling). The need situation involved either the person being evicted (Study 1), the person died, leaving two children in need of home (Study 2); or the person needing help to make a phone call (Study 3).
Cialdini et al. findings across the three studies: Empathic concernHelping Oneness Closeness Within each level of closeness (e.g., close friend) Empathic concernHelping Oneness
Cialdini et al. conclusions: “Overall, then, our findings suggest that empathetic concern may have only appeared to mediate aid in much prior research because it is a concomitant of perceived oneness, a construct that offers a non- altruistic path to such aid.” (p. 490) “Empathetic concern signals unity with another, and it is precisely because the self is thereby implicated in the other that his or her welfare is valued (and promoted).” (p. 491)
Batson et al. (1997) view of empathy-altruism link: Empathic concern HelpingPerspective taking Other considerations
Batson et al. studies: 2 X 2 Experimental design No perspective taking Perspective taking Non-shared group membership Shared group membership
Low-empathy condition: “Try to be as objective as possible about what has happened to the person interviewed and how it has affected his or her life. To remain objective, do not let yourself get caught up in imagining what this person has been through and how he or she feels as a result. Just try to remain detached as you listen to the broadcast.” High-empathy condition: “Try to imagine how the person being interviewed feels about what has happened and how it has affected his or her life. Try not to concern yourself with attending to all information presented. Just concentrate on trying to imagine how the person interviewed in the broad cast feels.”
Non-shared group membership condition: Katie Banks, a senior at Kansas State University whose parents were recently killed in a tragic automobile accident. Shared group membership condition: Katie Banks, a senior at the University of Kansas whose parents were recently killed in a tragic automobile accident.
Interview with Katie: “It’s – it’s just a nightmare. I guess I’m still numb [pause] The most important thing for me now is to graduate on time. I need to be able to get a good job and support my little brother and sister. [pause] You know, the help we’ve gotton so far has really been wonderful, but we’ve got a long way to go. If we don’t get more help, I’m afraid I’ll have to drop out of school and find a job. [pause] And that’s going to make things worse, I think, because everybody knows that without a college degree you can’t make much money. [pause] If I have to drop out, I’m afraid that I’ll have to give up the children. I – I just won’t be able to make enough to support them.”
Batson et al. findings across two studies: Empathic concern (self-reported) Helping Perspective taking Oneness or care
Batson et al. conclusions: “In sum, across the three merging measures and across the two experiments, we found little evidence that empathy-inducing conditions produced self- other merging. We found even less evidence that empathy-induced helping was due to self-other merging.” (p. 507) “[…] empathy evokes concern for the other, distinct from oneself, that is beyond self-interest.” (p. 508)
Neuberg, Cialdini, et al.’s response to Batson et al. Batson et al. failed to: 1) consider plausible nonaltruistic alternatives for the observed empathy-helping effects. 2) validly and reliably measure oneness. 3) examine whether the empathy-helping relationship remained after removing the effects of a full complement of reasonable nonaltruistic alternatives
Re-analysis of data indicates: Empathic concern predicts whether or not some help is provided… but not how much help is provided. Empathic concern Help or not help Nonaltruistic motives Closeness Empathic concern Degree of help Nonaltruistic motives Closeness
Neuberg, Cialdini, et al. conclusion: “These findings have several important implications. First, they are consistent with the finding of Batson et al. (1983) that under conditions of substantial cost to the helper, empathic concern does not facilitate helping – an outcome that led these authors to characterize empathy-based altruism as a ‘fragile flower easily crushed by self-concern’ (p. 718). Indeed, our results reveal that the flower of empathy is more fragile yet, blooming only in the garden of superficial assistance.” (p. 515)
Batson’s rebuttal of Neuberg, Cialdini et al.’s response Conceptual critique: “The empathy-altruism hypothesis does not claim that helping is purely altruistic or that altruism is the sole or even primary motivator of an empathically aroused individual.” (p. 520) “To claim that empathic concern evokes altruistic motivation and only altruistic motivation, as … the empathy-altruism hypothesis does, is not to claim that the empathically aroused individuals is experiencing only altruistic motivation.” (Batson, 1991, p. 88)
Methodological critique: Cialdini and colleagues are guided by the purity assumption. Their research strategy is designed to assess whether there is a pure empathy-helping relationship, independent of all other antecedents of helping. A proper research strategy should aim to assess whether the nature of the motivation evoked by empathy is altruistic. Is the ultimate goal of this motivation to increase one’s own welfare (egoism) or the increase the welfare of the person for whom empathy is felt (altruism)? Research strategy should allow participants to reach egoistic goal without having to necessarily reach the altruistic goal. If they are still more likely to help in the high empathy condition than in the low empathy condition, then the motivation evoked by empathy is likely altruistic.