Culture & Prosocial Behaviour Are there differences in prosocial/helping behavior Within a culture e.g. urban versus rural areas Between cultures e.g. individualist versus collectivist cultures
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.
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.
Situational factors and prosocial behavior An alternative hypothesis, by Milgram (1970), is the urban overload hypothesis, the idea that people living in cities are likely to keep to themselves in order to avoid being overloaded by all the stimulation they receive.
Situational factors and prosocial behavior Urban Overload Hypothesis (Milgram, 1970) The hypothesis suggests that impoverished social interaction in the city is an adaptation to overload of interpersonal contacts. People who live in cities are exposed to high levels of environmental stimulation They develop strategies to cut out excessive stimulation One such strategy is to avoid interactions with strangers – this leads to a reduction in helping behavior in some situations
Situational factors and prosocial behavior Milgram argued in his 1970 paper that situational factors can influence the extent to which we see altruistic behavior. Can your situation lead you to become more or less altruistic? Give an example.
Milgram and situational prosocial behavior Urban Overload Hypothesis (Milgram, 1970) The hypothesis suggests that impoverished social interaction in the city is an adaptation to overload of interpersonal contacts. People who live in cities are exposed to high levels of environmental stimulation They develop strategies to cut out excessive stimulation One such strategy is to avoid interactions with strangers – this leads to a reduction in helping behavior in some situations
Situational factors and prosocial behavior Milgram stated: "When I first came to New York it seemed like a nightmare. As soon as I got off the train at Grand Central I was caught up in pushing, shoving crowds on 42nd Street. Sometimes people bumped into me without apology; what really frightened me was to see two people literally engaged in combat for possession of a cab. Why were they so rushed? Even drunks on the street were bypassed without a glance. People didn't seem to care about each other at all." He suggests that the context of their environment have caused them to lack prosocial behavior. Read more: http://www.csee.wvu.edu/~xinl/library/papers/social/city_living.pdf http://www.csee.wvu.edu/~xinl/library/papers/social/city_living.pdf
Culture and prosocial behavior In general, prosocial (helping, sharing, caring, politeness) behaviors increase during the course of childhood, although the development and prevalence of prosocial behaviors varies across cultures. For example, researchers find that prosocial behavior, as observed among peers and in parent-child interaction is more prevalent among young East Asian children than among Western children. Why is that?
Culture and prosocial behavior Researchers suggest that this difference results from the collectivist ideologies prevalent in East Asian cultures. In support of this contention, researchers have reported that Chinese mothers of preschoolers are more likely than European American mothers to believe that their preschool children should share and help other children for social conventional reasons (e.g., to fit in with the group and function well in Chinese society). This would suggest that certain cultures normalize prosocial behavior more than others.
Types of Culture Individualistic Based on values of independence, competition, achievement and self-interest Prosocial concerns likely to be limited to immediate family/close relationships Collectivistic Based on values of mutual interdependence, loyalty and group membership Prosocial concerns likely to be extended beyond family, at least to members of same social group
Research Comparative studies of helping in children Those from collectivist cultures (e.g. Kenyan, Mexican, Hopi Indian) generally more helpful, co-operative than individualist (US, UK) US/UK children tend to compete even when working towards common goals. Likely that individualist cultures raise less helpful, cooperative kids due to need to compete in later life (capitalism)
Research Prosociality does seems to depend on child rearing to some extent Collectivist cultures tend to have extended family structures in which children take responsibility for younger siblings from an early age (Whiting & Whiting, 1988) A look at cross-cultural research on prosocial behavior: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1 063&context=famconfacpub http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1 063&context=famconfacpub
Research Likely that individualist and collectivist cultures help others for different reasons Individualist – helping motivated by personal rewards e.g. feeling good about yourself Collectivist – helping motivated by continued survival of group, possible future reciprocation
Problems ‘ Individualist ’ and ‘ collectivist ’ invite us to see all cultures as falling neatly into two camps. They don ’ t. Research studies have used limited samples and generally involve a single favour, so not long term. Usual problems of conducting cross-cultural research (e.g. trust, language) also apply.
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