Pro social behaviour

Revison for factors influencing pro social behaviour


Pro Social Behaviour

Pro-social behaviour

is any behaviour intended to help or benefit another person, group or society.

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Social Behaviour

Social behaviour refers to any behaviour where interaction occurs between two or more people. Social behaviour may involve smiling atsomeone, asking for and receiving directions fromsomeone, or interacting with others in a group,such as when playing a board game or going out with friends.

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Factors influencing pro social behaviour

In the 1960s and 1970s, many research studies were

undertaken to better understand the factors that

influence pro-social behaviour.

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Situational Factors

Psychologists have identified three key factors associated with the specific situation that influence whether people will be pro-social and help.

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Noticing the situation

Noticing an incident that is different or unusual

and may involve someone in need of help is a

necessary first step in making a helping response.

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Interpreting the situation

Many situations in which help may be required are ambiguous or unclear. Therefore, people cannot always be sure that a helping response is appropriate or required. In order for helping behaviour to occur in response to an emergency situation, a potential helper needs to first notice the situation, then interpret the situation as one in which help is required. The interpretation can be influenced by other people, particularly the way in which others respond to the same situation.

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Taking responsibility for helping

Though you may notice and correctly interpret a

situation as one in which help is required, you are

unlikely to help unless you believe it is your


When someone else is nearby in an emergency

situation, we may leave the responsibility to help to

them, even if we don't interpret them as having the

responsibility to help.

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Bystander effect

'Bystander effect' is the tendency for individuals to

be less likely to help another person in need when

other bystanders are present, or believed to be present,

as compared to when they are alone. Furthermore,

the greater the number of bystanders, the

less likely any one of them is to help. The bystander

effect indicates that when we are in a situation

where help is needed and we know that others are

around, we may place the responsibility to help on


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Social Norms

Social Norms are standards, or `rules', that govern what people should or should not do in different social situations.

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reciprocity norm

The reciprocity norm is based on the '

reciprocity principle', a notion that we should give what we receive or expect to receive. The word `reciprocal' means to give mutually and the saying `Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' reflects the reciprocity principle.

In accordance with the reciprocity principle, the reciprocity norm prescribes that we should help others who help us.

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Social responsibility norm


social responsibility norm prescribes that we

should help those who need help.

It seems, however, that we are selective in the way

we apply the social responsibility norm. For example,

if someone needs assistance because they are a victim

of circumstances such as fire, flood or burglary, and

they have not been responsible for bringing about

their hardship, then we are more likely to help and

be generous in our help.

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Personal Factors

Factors that can have an impact include our ability to

empathise with others, the mood we are in when help is needed and whether we feel competent to give the help that is required.

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Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand another person's feelings or difficulties.

empathic people may help others in distress for

egoistic or `selfish' motives, as well as purely helpful, `selfless' motives (which is called altruistic). For example, when we feel distressed about someone else's distress, we are motivated to do something to relieve or `get rid of' our ownunpleasant feelings of distress. One way of doing this is to help the distressed person.

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People are more likely to help when they are feeling good.

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Our actual or perceived ability to help can influence whether or not we help in a specific situation, as well as the type of help we may offer. For example, if you were not a competent swimmer, you might not dive into the river, but you may try to help by running to find someone else who could.

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Factors influencing reluctance to help

When so many people failed to help directly or

seek help while watching Kitty Genovese being

attacked and murdered, psychologists were interested

to discover not only those factors that lead

someone to help, but also those factors that prevent

someone from helping. Among the many factors

that influence someone to provide help are those

to do with the specific situation in which help is

required (situational factors) and those to do with

the person who has the opportunity to help (personal


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