A2 Psychology Summary Pro And Anti Social Behaviour

Revision notes on pro and anti-social behavior for A2 Psychology

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Pro and anti social behaviour
Helping behaviour (e.g. where behaviour brings a risk to the helper). Based on a desire to help
rather than on possible rewards. It could be based on empathy ­ the ability to share the emotions
of another person
Bystander Apathy
Not helping when help is required
Any behaviour that is intended to harm another person
Media Influences on pro and anti social behaviour
Positive and negative effects of media on behaviour (e.g. TV, video games...)
This is prosocial behaviour that is voluntary and helping. It is costly to the person who is altruistic and
based on a desire to help rather than on rewards. It is thought to depend on empathy ­ ability to share
emotions and understand feelings.
Altruism theories/explanations
Socio biological theory ­ altruism as innate
It is thought that altruism could be an evolutionary trait. This theory basis itself on the explanation that
any behaviour that promotes survival will be retained in future generations because of natural selection.
Those who do not possess these behaviours will die or not reproduce. This is confusing with altruism as
one may risk their own life when acting altruistically, therefore sacrificing themselves. This means that
altruistic behaviour would be die out and selfishness would be selected in. This is the paradox of altruism.
It is possible to explain the paradox of altruism through the concept of inclusive fitness or kin selection. If
the gene rather than the individual is seen as the basic principle of evolution then altruism can be
explained through trying to maintain survival of the gene pool. So if behaviour promotes survival of the
same genes an individual may make a greater contribution of its own genes to the next generations gene
pool through sacrificing itself to save a relative.
The closer a kin, the more likely one is to help as a larger percentage of genes are shared. An individual
shares 50% with a sibling, 50% with children and parents, 25% with aunts and uncles, 12.5% with
cousins... Therefore more of one's own genes can survive if one can save enough relatives by selfsacrifice
e.g. a mother could die for her three offspring, saving 1.5 times her genes.
Genes does not explain how people act altruistically towards strangers. When altruism first evolved, people
lived in tribes in which everyone was related, therefore rescue behaviour may have helped save one's own
genes. The same instinct could still be fulfilled in today, as if a stranger is thought to be more genetically
identical then they really are.
Reciprocal altruism is the concept of doing a favour with the expectation that it will be returned.
Perceived similarity is correlates with genetic similarity between family however it can also be seen in other
situations. An example of the sociobiological approach is among ethnic groups. Since there is a greater
similarity between two individual from an ethnic groups than if they were from different ethnic groups,
there is a biological basis for ethnic groups to favour their own members.
Cannot be scientifically tested
Is based on speculation as cannot go back in time
Natural selection means most altruistic would die out, leaving selfish people, until altruistic
behaviour became extinct
Reductionist ­ only explains biological factors and ignores learning
Social Learning theory

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This is based on the thought that children develop altruistic behaviour by modelling themselves on
observed behaviour, therefore they learn the behaviour. Through vicarious conditioning
(observation/reinforcement) a child learns altruism through being rewarded or watching a role model.
Case Study: Rushton (1975)
Found children who practised altruistic behaviour were more likely to share valuable tokens with others,
even though the people they were sharing them with were unlike the recipients they had previously
observed. Observations took place in a different location with a different researcher.…read more

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Those low in empathic joy were more interested in learning about their altruistic acts
Negativestate relief model
A person who feels empathy for a victim usually feels sad as a result so they may want to help the victim in
order to reduce their own sadness. Therefore helping behaviour should not occur if the personal sadness
is removed.…read more

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All answered police question in the days following the murder and seemed shocked that they hadn't done
The bystander effect/apathy/intervention/Genovese syndrome
The phenomenon in which someone is less likely to react in an emergency situation when other people are
around and able to help then when they are alone.…read more

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Low mundane realism
Well controlled variables
Supports theory of bystander effect
Fear of social blunder ­ People may not help because they do not want to embarrass themselves or make a
fool of themselves in front of others.
Case Study:
Shortland and Straw (1976) and Pantin and Carver (1982)
Have shown that if a situation is ambiguous, therefore there is more chance of the individual making a
social blunder, then this is likely to deter the individual from intervening.…read more

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Bystanders are usually most likely to help a victim if they are perceived similar to themselves. However, the
differences (e.g. race) can be disregarded by the demands of the situation.
Case Study:
Gaertner and Dovidio (1977)
White participants heard a victim in the next room apparently being struck by a stack of falling chairs.
When it was not clear if it was an emergency (when there was no scream), the whiter participants were
faster to respond if the victim was white.…read more

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Evaluation: Strengths :
­ Has experimental support
­ Assumes there are several reasons why bystanders do not lend assistance
­ Gives a plausible explanation of why bystanders fail to help a victim (if bystanders respond to a
question with a no)
­ Can be useful in explaining why bystander apathy may occur (Schroeder 1995)
­ Model can be extended to explain wider issues rather than just emergencies (e.g.…read more


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