ProSocial Behaviour and Altruism

Unit 4 AQA A2 Psych paper

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ProSocial Behaviour and Altruism
Definition of altruism: A form of prosocial behaviour that is costly to the individual who is behaving this way. It has the
ultimate goal of increasing another's welfare.
Explanations of Altruism
1. The Empathy Altruism Model ­ Bateson (1991) Altruism is made possible by empathy emotional components
include perspective taking personal distress and empathic concern. The higher the level of empathy the more
likely altruistic behaviour is likely to occur.
Bateson et al (1981) The Elaine/Charlie Experiment: Participants were led to believe they were observed while
E/C performed a task in which they would receive random shocks. E/C revealed they had developed a fear of
shocks since a childhood accident Pp invited to take their place. Half of Pp were told E/C were similar to them,
the other half dissimilar. Half told they could leave after 2 trials, other half told they had to watch all 10 trials.
High empathy Pps helped whether they could leave or not low empathy Pps were more likely to help if they
watched all trials, but much less if they could leave.
Burnstein (1994) Positive correlation between genetic closeness and willingness to help ­ biology instead of
empathy. Counter argument ­ adoption.
Might be socialisation (taught to help people) But, research shows people did not help in high empathy
situations so socialisation can't explain truly altruistic behaviour.
2. The Negative State Relief Model ­ Piliavin proposed that emergency situations provoke unpleasant arousal in
observers, from which they seek relief by helping.
Darley (1991) `the true and basic motive for human action is selfinterest.'
In childhood it is learnt that helping behaviour is desirable and so this takes on a rewarding quality, so helping
someone in need offers an antidote to whatever negative feelings we may be experiencing at the time.
Baron (1990) pleasant moods lead to increase in helping. Those in a good mood are more likely to help
Lab experiments, lack external validity.
Confounding variables: Pp may help because of fear of disapproval or demand characteristics.
Simplistic ­ altruism down to relieving ourselves of negative feelings?
In real life, social norms indicate how to help and who, rather than altruism or relief of negative states.
Bystander Effect ­ Latane + Darley
5 Stage Decision Model
Steps Factors discouraging help Research
Notice the Distraction/ Self concerns Darley + Batson (1973) Stooge by seminar room
situation 10% of late students helped
45% of on time students helps
63% early student helped
Decide its an Pluralistic ignorance: Latane + Rodin (1969) Pp heard a female in adjoining room cry and fall.
emergency situation is ambiguous, no Pp who were alone were much faster than with confeds in the room.
one knows whether to act. Pluralistic ignorance.
Take Diffusion of responsibility: Darley + Latane (1986) College students talk over an intercom for 2
personal Less likely to help if there are mins Pp heard 1st voice say he was prone to seizures and had one
responsibility more people present during the talk. Bystander apathy:
When Pp believed he was alone 82% helped
Pp with 2 other people 62% helped
Pp with 5 other people 31% helped
Decide what Competance Cramer et al (1988) Presence of nurse in a situation of medical need
actions are reduced Pp intervention. Diffusion of responsibility is greater if you
required believe that others present are better qualified/equipped than you.
Give help Audience inhibition:
reluctance to help for fear of
making a bad impression on
Suggests there are different reasons for Bystander Effect, supported by evidence.
Explains why bystanders more often fail to help a victim, can produce a `no' at any stage.
Doesn't provide a detailed account of the processes involved in decision making
Deemphasises influence of emotional factors on bystander's behaviour.
Brickman et al (1982) Pps heard a bookcase fall and then a scream. + Validity/ Ethics.
Kitty Genovese. 38 witnesses. Diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance.

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Piliavin et al (1969) Black/w hite man collapses on subway with cane/ bottle (blind/ drunk) People more likely to
help if confed blind/ same race. More people in train, more help was given. Not diff of resp.…read more


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