PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR - summary
—voluntary actions that are carried out to benefit others
no obvious benefits for the person performing the behavior
You hear a scream from outside your apartment window. What do you do?
Example—Kitty Genovese homicide case (NY City)
for 35 minutes she was repeatedly attacked and stabbed
38 people watched from their windows
no one helped
no one called the police
how do you explain this lack of assistance?
"Diffusion of responsibility"
- with other potential helpers around, each individual feel less personal responsibility
-the finding that the more people are present, the less likely it is that any one bystander will help
Often time, cases like this happen in cities:
cities are distracting (you may not notice an emergency)
more people around = less personal responsibility
most of the people around are strangers—you can remain anonymous
If you need help, what should you do?
pick out a particular individual and ask for help
The process for helping to occur:
Bystander intervention model (Latané & Darley, 1968). Five necessaries cognitives helps:
1. Perception of the situation
for helping to occur one must notice the situation
2. Interpret the situation as an emergency
pluralistic ignorance—use of other’s behavior to determine if help is required no one else is acting like it’s an emergency
3. Assume responsibility for helping
is it your place to help?
4. Assess ability to help (skills, knowledge, etc.)
how should you help?
can you help?
5. Decision to help (outcomes vs. costs, motivation)
is it worthwhile to help?
are there risks to you that outweigh the benefits?
Why does someone help?
Altruism—form of helping with the goal of helping another, without expecting anything in return
Egoism—form of helping with the ultimate goal of the helper is to benefit him/herself
Empathy—an emotional response corresponding to the feelings of another
Empathy-Altruism model (Batson, 1991)
people are motivated to help others because they "feel" for others and wish to reduce the others’ stress
2. Genetic factors:
kin selection—help relatives pass on their (your) genes
this explains why you would help family members
reciprocal helping—helping in exchange for future help
3. Social norms:
norm—general standards of appropriate social behavior
norm of social responsibility—expectation that people have societal obligation to help others norm of reciprocity—norm that helping will be re-paid later
4. Personal norms:
personal sense of obligation to help
norm of non-involvement—standard of behavior that causes people to avoid becoming involved deeply religious people help more
5. Social exchange theory:
cost-benefit analysis - should I give blood or not?
costs: inconvenience, discomfort, anxiety
rewards: social approval and noble feeling about self
if anticipated rewards exceed costs, then you help
takes selflessness out of helping—no behavior is truly altruistic
6. Emotional State:
people in a good mood are more likely to help
as a way to maintain their positive mood
to relieve guilt
Negative State Relief (NSR) model
helping improves one’s mood
if we perceive that helping will improve our bad mood we will help if we think that helping will not do anything to our mood, we won’t help
Situations that enhance helping:
if we are not hurried
the victim appears to need and deserve help
we are in a small town or rural area
there are few bystanders
the victim is similar to ourselves
we have observed a helpful model
does altruism truly exist?
is helping behavior really selfless?
or do helpers have personal motives?
Learning to help:
Bibliography: Baron, Robert A., Social Psychology, Prentice Hall
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