Prosocial Behavior

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Prosocial Behavior

  1. 1. Prosocial Behavior
  2. 2. Altruism • Behavior that is motivated by an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.
  3. 3. Heroism • Actions that involve courageous risk taking to obtain a socially valued goal. An example would be a dangerous act undertaken to save the life of a stranger. – Carnegie Hero Medal – Ranges from life-saving acts of courage (saving people from animals, criminals, fire, WWII gentiles) to donating a kidney, joining the Peace Corps, or volunteering to work overseas w/Doctors of the World.
  4. 4. Diffusion of responsibility • The idea that the amount of responsibility assumed by bystanders in an emergency is shared among them. • Rather than increasing the odds that prosocial behavior will occur, having multiple bystanders decreases the odds. Rather than apathy, a large no. of witnesses experience diffusion of responsibility. • Darley and Latane’ (1968)
  5. 5. Bystander Effect • The fact that the likelihood of a prosocial response to an emergency is affected by the number of bystanders who are present. – Kitty Genovese incident in the 1960s led psychologists to find an explanation for why multiple bystanders do not translate into multiple helpers. • Darley and Latane’ (1968), student choking experiment
  6. 6. Implicit Bystander Effect • The decrease in helping behavior brought about by simply thinking about being in a group.
  7. 7. Five Steps that Determine Helping Latane’ and Darley (1970) • Noticing or failing to notice that something unusual is happening • Correctly interpreting an event as an emergency • Deciding that it is your responsibility to help • Deciding that you have the needed skills/knowledge • Making the final decision to provide help
  8. 8. Darley and Batson (1973) • Conducted a field study to test the importance of the first step in the decision process (noticing or failing to notice). Students training for the clergy (especially likely to be helpful) were instructed to walk across campus to give a talk. On their way they passed a stranger slumped in a doorway needing help. Three conditions: were in no hurry (63% helped), right on time (45%), late and needed to hurry (10%).
  9. 9. Pluralistic Ignorance • The tendency of bystanders in an emergency to rely on what other bystanders do and say, even though none of them is sure about what is happening or what to do about it. Very often, all of the bystanders hold back and behave as if there is no problem. Each individual uses this ‘information’ to justify the failure to act. • Rely on social comparison so we don’t misinterpret a situation (smoke in the room study)
  10. 10. Situational factors that affect helping • Helping those you like • Helping those who mimic us • Helping those who are not responsible for their problem • Exposure to prosocial models increases prosocial behavior
  11. 11. Emotions and Prosocial Behavior • Generally we help more when we are in a positive mood (research indicates people helped more after listening to a comedian, finding small amount of money or spending time outdoors), but can also decrease helping b/c people in a very good mood tend to interpret an ambiguous situation as a non-emergency, and resist helping if it involves something difficult or unpleasant. • (reverse trends also seen w/negative mood)
  12. 12. Empathy and other personality dispositions • Empathy: A complex affective and cognitive response to another person’s emotional distress. Includes being able to feel the other person’s emotional state, felling sympathetic and trying to solve the problem and take perspective of others. • Personality Disposition: a characteristic, behavioral tendency determined by genetics, learning experiences, or both.
  13. 13. Empathy: Three types of Perspective Taking • Affective component present in infants as young as 12 mths, as well as other primates. Includes feeling sympathy—biological basis. • Cognitive component uniquely human – Perspective taking (three types) • Imagine other perspective, pure empathy, leads to altruism • Imagine self, empathy + self-interest, may interfere w/altruism • Identifying w/fictional characters
  14. 14. How does empathy develop? • Combination of biological differences and differences in experience • Heredity underlies both affective components, but not cognitive, all born w/capacity for empathy, experience determines if becomes a vial part of self or fails to manifest • secure attachment style, prosocial TV models, parents (warm mother, family discusses emotions/feelings of others in supportive atmosphere)
  15. 15. Personality variables associated w/prosocial behavior • Altruistic personality: a combination of dispositional variables associated with prosocial behavior – Empathy (responsible, tolerant, socialized, conforming, self-controlled, able to make good impressions) – Belief in a just world (good behavior is rewarded/right thing to do, personal rewards from helping) – Acceptance of social responsibility – Internal locus of control – Low egocentrism
  16. 16. Long-Term Commitment to Prosocial Action • Volunteering—commit time time and effort over weeks, months, or longer. 87% of people 45 and up volunteered time/money in 2003. • Five steps in responding to emergency apply • Motivated by importance of a given need. Whites give most to help animals, environment and emergency personnel. African Americans assist the homeless, minority rights groups and religious institutions.
  17. 17. Mandates, Altruism & Generativity • Mandates from high schools and colleges to increase volunteerism (feeling forced decreases future interest for many students) • Generativity: An adult’s concern for and commitment to the well-being of future generations (those high in generativity become parents, teach young people, and engage in acts that will have positive effects beyond their own lifetime)
  18. 18. Self-Interest, Moral Integrity & Moral Hypocrisy • With good enough excuse (“It’s not my responsibility,” “It’s her own fault” we can set aside or disengage moral standards, and convince ourselves there is no reason to help. • We overestimate the frequency of our moral actions and believe we are more selfless than others • Fairly easy for otherwise moral people to find a reason not to act morally in varied situations
  19. 19. Motivation & Morality • Three motives involved when a person is faced with a moral dilemma to help/not help someone – Self-interest: motivated to engage in whatever behavior provides greatest satisfaction – Moral Integrity: motivated to be moral and engage in moral behavior – Moral Hypocrisy: motivated to appear moral while doing one’s best to avoid the costs of actually being moral
  20. 20. How does it feel to be helped? • Being helped can be unpleasant: may have reactions of discomfort, even resentment (a physically impaired person may be reminded of their impairment and feel depressed when help is given). Self-esteem can suffer, especially if helped by someone similar to you in age, education or other characteristics. • Stigmatized group member helped by nonstigmatized group member, may be received as patronizing • Sibling help (ie- younger brother)
  21. 21. A helper is liked best when: • The person receiving help believes that the help was offered because of positive feelings toward the individual in need, which evokes the reciprocity norm, and the one who was helped is motivated to reciprocate with a kind deed in the future. • When helping is based on someone’s role, such as a police officer, or b/c helper would gain more than he would lose from the deed, liking and reciprocity is decreased.
  22. 22. When help is unpleasant, can motivate self-help • A positive aspect about feeling unhappy about receiving help is that the person being helped is motivated to avoid such a situation in the future by engaging in self-help, which can reduce feelings of incompetence and feelings of dependence
  23. 23. Basic Motivation for Engaging in Prosocial Acts • Why are people motivated to help (rather than who would help under what circumstances). • People attributed their helpfulness to unselfish motives, but when asked why someone else engaged in helpful behavior the attributions are split between selfish and unselfish motives. Motives actually explained by a combination in the following theories:
  24. 24. Empathy-Altruism It feels good to help others This model says prosocial behavior is motivated solely by the desire to help someone in need and by the fact that it feels good to help. Such motivation may be strong enough that helper is willing to engage in unpleasant, dangerous or even life-threatening activity. Compassion for someone in need outweighs all other considerations. Selective Altruism: When many individuals are in need, and only one individual is helped. (thry unresolved regarding questions of “oneness”)
  25. 25. Negative-state relief model • Prosocial behavior is motivated by the bystander’s desire to reduce his or her own uncomfortable negative emotions. –Doesn’t matter if negative state was caused by the emergency itself or was unrelated to the emergency, in either case you are likely to engage in prosocial acts to relieve your negative state.
  26. 26. Empathic Joy Hypothesis • Prosocial behavior is motivated by the positive emotion a helper anticipates experiencing as the result of having a beneficial impact on the life of someone in need. – Crucial to know his/her actions will have a positive impact – All three theories rest on the affective state of helper, feeling better, or less bad, by helping – Basis of other investigations point to self-interest (expectation of reciprocation, rewards)
  27. 27. Genetic determinism model • Proposal that behavior is driven by genetic attributes that evolved because they enhanced the probability of transmitting one’s genes to subsequent generations. • Inclusive fitness: the concept that natural selection not only applies to individuals, but also involves behaviors that benefit other individuals with whom we share genes, sometimes know as kin selection.

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