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Why Do People Help? Prosocial Behavior. Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Prosocial behavior is any act performed with the goal of benefiting.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Do People Help? Prosocial Behavior. Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Prosocial behavior is any act performed with the goal of benefiting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Do People Help? Prosocial Behavior

2 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Prosocial behavior is any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person, regardless of motive.

3 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Altruism is the desire to help another person even if it involves a cost to the helper.

4 Defining Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior Benevolenc e Pure Altruism From Simpson, 2004

5 Type of Behavior Defining Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior Benevolence Pure Altruism DefinitionExample From Simpson, 2004

6 Type of Behavior Defining Prosocial Behavior Prosocial BehaviorProsocial Behavior Benevolence Pure Altruism DefinitionExample Any action intended to benefit another (regardless of motive) Giving a large tip to a waiter to impress your bossGiving a large tip to a waiter to impress your boss From Simpson, 2004

7 Type of Behavior Defining Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior BenevolenceBenevolence Pure Altruism DefinitionExample Benefits another intentionally for no external reward Sending $20 to a charity to make yourself feel goodSending $20 to a charity to make yourself feel good From Simpson, 2004

8 Type of Behavior Defining Prosocial Behavior Prosocial Behavior Benevolence Pure AltruismPure Altruism DefinitionExample Benefits another intentionally for no external or internal reward Jumping on a railroad track to help a stranger who has fallenJumping on a railroad track to help a stranger who has fallen From Simpson, 2004

9 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior A basic question that people have asked is whether people are willing to help when there is nothing to gain, or if they only help when there is some benefit for them.

10 Theories of Prosocial Behavior Evolutionary Social exchange Empathy-altruism

11 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes Evolutionary Psychology is the attempt to explain social behavior in terms of genetic factors that evolved over time, according to the principles of natural selection.

12 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes Darwin recognized that altruistic behavior posed a problem for his theory: if an organism acts altruistically, it may decrease its own reproductive fitness.

13 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes The idea of kin selection is the idea that behaviors that help a genetic relative are favored by natural selection. [Suggests can pass on genes by helping genetic relatives have children or by helping their children survive.]

14 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes The norm of reciprocity is the expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future. [Suggests reciprocity may increase likelihood of survival.]

15 Evaluation of Evolutionary approach Although theorists can tell a story about evolutionary reasons for helping, we cannot know for sure whether helping has an evolutionary basis. Retrospective explanations, no hard evidence.

16 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping Social exchange theory argues that much of what we do stems from the desire to maximize our outcomes and minimize our costs. Like evolutionary psychology, it is a theory based on self-interest; unlike it, it does not assume that self-interest has a genetic basis.

17 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping  Helping can be rewarding because  increases the probability that someone will help us in return  relieves the personal distress of the bystander  gains us social approval and increased self-worth.

18 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping Helping can also be costly (danger, time, money); thus it decreases when costs are high.

19 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping Batson (1991) is the strongest proponent of the idea that people often help purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

20 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping He argues that pure altruism is most likely to come into play when we experience empathy for the person in need; that is, we are able to experience events and emotions the way that person experiences them.

21 Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping The empathy-altruism hypothesis states that when we feel empathy for a person, we will attempt to help purely for altruistic reasons, that is, regardless of what we have to gain.

22 Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping

23 When did people agree to help Carol (who was in auto accident) w/work missed in Intro Psych? (Toi & Batson,1982) High empathy: Imagine how Carol felt Low Empathy: Be objective, don’t be concerned w/ how Carol felt

24 Is it altruism? Why or why not? exercise

25 Altruistic or egoistic motives? It is often difficult to disentangle whether people are helping for altruistic or egoistic motives. –If someone feels joy after helping, is that an egoistic motive?

26 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality Aspects of a person’s makeup that lead the person to help others in a wide variety of situations defines the altruistic personality.

27 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality Research has found that the extent to which people are helpful in one situation is NOT highly related to how prosocial they are in another situation. *High altruism scores not a good predictor of helping Personality is not the only determinant of whether people will help, at least across many situations.

28 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality It appears that different kinds of people are likely to help in different types of situations.

29 Gender and Helping Women are universally perceived as kinder, more soft- hearted, and more helpful. But over 90% of Carnegie Hero awards go to men (for saving, or attempting to save, the life of another). Why? --Women are more likely to help those they already know. --Men are more likely to help strangers in emergency situations. From Simpson, 2004

30 Gender Differences in Prosocial Behavior Ex: Men > likely to help w/flat tire or in dangerous situation. ( short-term, strangers) Women > likely to help take care of a neighbor or elderly relative. (longer-term, close relationships)

31 Gender differences in receiving help Are people more likely to help women or men? It depends. –Male helpers are more likely to help women than men. –Female helpers are equally likely to help men and women. Women not only receive more help from men, but they also SEEK more help.

32 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Cultural Differences in Prosocial Behavior People across cultures are more likely to help members of their in-group, the group with which an individual identifies as a member, than members of the out-group, a group with which an individual does not identity.

33 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Cultural Differences in Prosocial Behavior People from collectivist cultures are more prone to help in-group members and less likely to help out-group members than are people from individualist cultures.

34 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Effects of Mood on Prosocial Behavior People who are in a good mood are more likely to help.

35 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Effects of Mood on Prosocial Behavior  Good moods can increase helping for three reasons  good moods make us interpret events in a sympathetic way  helping another prolongs the good mood  good moods increase self-attention and this in turn leads us to be more likely to behave according to our values and beliefs (and most of us value altruism).

36 Positive Mood: Feel good, do good When researchers have induced a good mood (e.g., leaving dimes in the coin return slot of a pay phone, giving people cookies, etc.), they find that people in a good mood are more likely to help than those in a “neutral” mood.

37 Personal Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Effects of Mood on Prosocial Behavior Negative-state relief hypothesis says that people help in order to alleviate their own sadness and distress; it exemplifies a social exchange approach.

38 Negative mood and helping Variety of studies show that, when people feel sad, they are more likely to help (e.g., donate money to a charity).

39 Helping can be increased by events that trigger temporary sadness: Reminiscing about unhappy experiences Reading depressing statements Failing at a task Witnessing harm to another Presence of Sadness From Simpson, 2004

40 Young children are LESS likely to help when in a sad mood. They have not yet learned that helping another can produce good feelings. AGE From Simpson, 2004

41 How can a sad mood and a happy mood both lead to more helping? Different reasons Sadness: Helping may improve temporary sadness. (But, if we blame others for our bad mood, sadness is not associated with more helping.) Complex association. Happiness: May trigger positive thoughts about others. May prolong good mood. Straightforward, consistent association.

42 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Environments: Rural versus Urban People in rural areas are more helpful. This effect holds over a wide variety of helping situations and in many countries.

43 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Environments: Rural versus Urban One explanation is that people from rural settings are brought up to be more neighborly and more likely to trust strangers.

44 Situational determinants of prosocial behavior Or, it might be that people living in cities are overwhelmed with too much stimulation; if you put them in a calmer environment, they might be just as likely to help.

45 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Field studies conducted in 36 cities in the U.S. The more densely populated the area, the less likely people were to help. Location (rural or urban) more important than whether person grew up in small town or large city.

46 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Number of Bystanders: The Bystander Effect The bystander effect is the finding that the greater the number of bystanders who witness an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help.

47 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Number of Bystanders: The Bystander Effect Latané and Darley (1970) developed a decision tree to show how people decide whether to help in an emergency: 1. Noticing an Event: YesNo 2. Interpreting the Event as an EmergencyYesNo 3. Assuming ResponsibilityYesNo 4. Knowing How to HelpYesNo 5. Deciding to Implement the HelpYesNo

48 Stage 1: Noticing the event The Good Samaritan study

49 Stage 1: Noticing the event Darley & Batson, 1973 TIME PRESSURE IVs: Hurry or No Hurry Topic of talk: Good Samaritan parable or jobs for seminary students DV: Helping a man slumped in doorway Results: No hurry condition: ____helped Hurry condition: ___ helped Topic of speech was __________to helping.

50 Kitty Genovese case Was noticing the event a problem?

51 Stage 2: Interpreting the event as an emergency Smoke-filled room study –video clip

52 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Number of Bystanders: The Bystander Effect Pluralistic ignorance is the phenomenon whereby bystanders assume that nothing is wrong in an emergency because no one else looks concerned. This greatly interferes with the interpretation of the event as an emergency and therefore reduces helping.

53 Kitty Genovese Was interpreting the event a problem in the Kitty Genovese case?

54 Stage 3: Assuming responsibility Recall seizure study (earlier in the course) When more people were present, participants were less likely to help (by getting the experimenter) and they took longer to help (if they did help).

55 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior Stage 3: Assuming responsibility Diffusion of responsibility is the phenomenon whereby each bystander’s sense of responsibility to help decreases as the number of witnesses increases. This results in a reduction of helping.

56 Kitty Genovese Was assuming responsibility a problem?

57 Stage 4: Weighing rewards and costs People help when the rewards outweigh the costs Potential rewards –Reciprocity –Social approval –Self-satisfaction –Reduced guilt and arousal Potential costs –Danger/life threatening –Financially detrimental –Embarrassing –Time consuming

58 Stage 5: Deciding how to help People cannot help if they do not know how to help. Do you know CPR? The Heimlich maneuver? Your own blood type? These were not an issue in the case of Kitty Genovese.

59 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Nature of the Relationship: Communal Versus Exchange Relationships Communal relationships are those in which people’s primary concern is with the welfare of the other, whereas exchange relationships are governed by equity concerns.

60 Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior The Nature of the Relationship: Communal Versus Exchange Relationships Communal/exchange distinction means that generally we are more helpful towards friends (> likely to be communal) than strangers; the exception occurs when the other is beating us in a domain that is personally important and thus threatens our self-esteem. (Recall Tesser video)

61 How Can Helping Be Increased? Prosocial role models 1--Bryan & Test (1967) L.A. drivers for more likely to offer help to a female driver with a flat tire if a quarter of a mile earlier they had witnessed someone helping another woman change a tire.

62 Increasing helping—Prosocial models 2—Byran & Test (1967) New Jersey Xmas shoppers were more likely to drop money into a Salvation Army kettle if they had just seen someone else to donate.

63 Increasing helping—prosocial models 3—Rushton & Campbell (1977) found British adults more willing to donate blood if they were approached after observing a confederate agree to donate.

64 Media can encourage helping TV programming NIMH study of Mr. Rogers 4 wks preschool program Kids from less educated homes became more cooperative, helpful, likely to state their feelings during the 4 wk period than those who did not see the show.

65 Increasing helping: Disseminate research findings Beaman et al. (1978) Students who had heard a lecture on bystander intervention were more likely to help in a staged emergency 2 wks later. Heard lecture 43% helped Did not hear lecture 25% helped


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