SOP3004 – Ch 11

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Prosocial Behavior
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Act done with the goal of benefiting another person
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Altruism
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The desire to help another person even if it involves a cost to the helper
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Prosocial Moivations
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– Evolutionary psychology:Pass on genes – Social exchange theory: Maximize rewards, minimize costs – Empathy-altruism hypothesis: Feeling empathy and compassion –> selfless giving
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Motive 1: Evolutionary Psychology
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– Basic Tenets: (1) Any gene that furthers survival and increases the probability of producing offspring likely to be passed on (2) Genes that lower chances of survival and reduce the chances of producing offspring less likely to be passed on – Evolutionary Psychology: The attempt to explain social behavior in terms of genetic factors that evolved over time according to the principles of natural selection – kin selection: The idea that behaviors that help a genetic relative are favored by natural selection – The Reciprocity Norm: The expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future: It is adaptive for individuals to learn norms (e.g., altruism) from other members of a society; the best learners have a survival advantage over others (Ability to learn social norms has become part of our genetic makeup – Gratitude as an evolved emotion to facilitate reciprocity – Evolution favors groups whose members help each other)
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Motive 2: Social Exchange Theory
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– What we do stems from desire to maximize rewards and minimize costs; in relationships with others, try to maximize the ratio of social rewards to social costs – Helping can be rewarding in a number of ways: (1) The norm of reciprocity: Someone will help us if we need it (2) Relief of distress (3) Gain rewards (e.g., social approval, increased feelings of self-worth) – The other side is that helping can be costly: Physical danger, Pain, Money, Time – Social exchange theory argues that true altruism does not exist; people only help when the benefits outweigh the costs
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Motive 3: Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis
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– The pure motive for helping – Empathy: The ability to put oneself in the shoes of another person and to experience emotions (e.g., joy and sadness) the way that person experiences them – Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: When we feel empathy, we will attempt to help that person purely for altruistic reasons, regardless of costs or rewards – Empathy high: people helped regardless of the costs and rewards (i.e., regardless of whether they would see her in class). – Empathy low: people more concerned with rewards and costs for themselves. They helped only if they would encounter Carol in class and thus feel guilty about not helping.
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Gender Differences in Altruism
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– In most cultures, norms prescribe different traits and behaviors for males and females – In Western cultures, the male sex role includes being chivalrous and heroic; females are expected to be nurturant and caring and to value close, long-term relationships – Of the seven thousand people who received medals from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for risking their lives to save a stranger, 91 percent have been men
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Group Differences in Altruism
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– People in all cultures are overall more likely to help anyone they define as a member of their in-group than those they perceive in out-groups – Some evidence suggests that: -Conservatives are more charitable than liberals -Conservatives’ charity is more ingroup-focused -Religious people are more charitable than atheists, but atheists that do engage in charitable giving do so out of empathy
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Why does feeling good lead to doing good?
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-Desire to maintain one’s good mood -Positive expectations about helping -Pay more attention to ourselves and are thus more likely to behave in line with morals (i.e., self-awareness theory)
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Negative Mood and Helping
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When does feeling bad lead to more helping? -If we take responsibility for what caused our bad mood (i.e., feel guilty) and are trying to capitalize on karma (e.g., good deeds cancel out the bad ones) -If we to think about our personal values that promote helping -Negative-State Relief Hypothesis: People help to alleviate their own sadness and distress When does feeling bad lead to less helping? -If we blame others for our bad mood -If we become too self-focused -If we think about our personal values that do not promote helping
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Urban Overload Hypothesis
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– People living in cities are constantly being bombarded with stimulation and they keep to themselves to avoid being overwhelmed by it – According to urban overload hypothesis, if you put urban dwellers in a calmer, less stimulating environment, they would be as likely as anyone else to reach out to others – In field studies in 36 U.S. cities, population density was more related to helping than population size – Importance of residential mobility: It is not only where you live that matters, but how often you have moved from one place to another. People who have lived in a place a long time: -More likely to engage in pro-social behaviors -Greater attachment to the community -More inter-dependence with neighbors -Greater concern with one’s reputation
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Bystander Decision Tree
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1. Notice event (fail if destracted or in hurry) 2. Interpret event as emergency (no = pluralistic ignorance) 3. Assume responsibility (fail = diffusion of responsibility) 4. Know appropriate form of assistance (can’t = lack of knowledge/competence) 5. Implement decision (costs = danger to self, legal concerns, embarassment) 6. Intervene and offer assistance
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Chapter in Sum
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You are more likely to help when: -You are paying attention -You know what to do -You assume responsibility -You overlook risks -You are focused (but not too focused) on yourself -You feel guilty or happy -You are in a low-population density area -There are few other witnesses to the need -You think others will appreciate your help -You think the victim deserves help

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