Altruism (PowerPoint)

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  Are we inherently selfish?
Can we learn to act otherwise?
• Altruism
  – A motive to increase another’s welfare without
    conscious regard for one’s self-interests.
• Altruism has been the topic of
  philosophical debates for centuries.
  – Some argue that “true altruism” is not a
  – Addition of “conscious regard” to above
    definition weakens this counterargument.
         Altruistic Empathy?
• Empathy: feeling another’s feelings
• Batson argues that the arousal of empathy
  increases helping behavior and gets us
  closer to pure altruism.
  – He argues that we focus more on the distress
    of the other person than on our own distress.
       Theories on why we Help
• Social Exchange Theory
  – Relationships are designed to minimize costs
    and maximize rewards.
  – Sometimes referred to as Social Economics
    or Social Calculus.
  – Internal rewards include reduction of distress
    and an increase of self-worth.
  – External rewards include social approval.
    Theory Two: Social Norms
• Norm of reciprocity
  – We should help, not harm those, who have helped us.
    And we expect the same behavior from others.
  – More likely in sustained relationships than in one time
    encounters (makes it harder to study in laboratory).
  – When people have received help but can’t reciprocate
    there is frequently a drop in self-esteem. This finding
    is common for recipients of affirmative action.
               More Norms
• Social Responsibility Norm
  – Belief that we should help those in need. We
    should help those who are dependent on us,
    with no expectation of reciprocity.
  – This belief is stronger in collectivist cultures.
  – Tends to be tied to attributions for need. We
    help those who don’t seem to have caused
    their situation.
     Theory Three: Sociobiology
• Genes drives us to maximize their likelihood of
  being passed on.
• Thus, we help our kin and those who are “like
  us” more quickly than others.
• Does not invalidate norm of reciprocity.
  – Reciprocal systems increase likelihood of survival.
    Are more likely to occur in small systems.
• Where does unreciprocated altruism fit in?
  – Group selection: altruistic groups are more successful
    than non-altruistic.
• Religious and ethical rules: may have been
  created to slow down our biological bias toward
                 Level of        Mutual        Intrinsic
  Theory       Explanation     "Altruism"      Altruism
                                 external    distress=inner
  Social                       rewards for    rewards for
 Exchange      psychological     helping         helping
                               reciprocity   responsibility
Social Norms   sociological      norm            norm

Evolutionary    biological     reciprocity   kin selection
          Latane and Darley
• Leading researchers who were spurred to
  action by the Kitty Genovese murder.
• Keys to helping behavior are:
  – Noticing the event
  – Interpreting it as an emergency
  – Assuming responsibility
    Factors that Influence Helping
• Number of bystanders
  – How does a large crowd influence noticing an
    emergency, interpreting something as an
    emergency, and assuming responsibility?
  – Leads to the bystander effect.
• Factors exist that reduce bystander effect.
  – Clear emergencies vs. ambiguous.
  – Cohesive groups vs. strangers.
           Additional Factors
• Presence of prosocial models.
  – Salvation Army contributions increase if
    person has just seen someone else give.
• Time pressure
  – You are less likely to receive aid from
    someone in a hurry
  – They are less likely to notice an emergency
    and less likely to interpret a situation correctly.
• Guilt
  – Increases helping behavior.
  – In one study, those who had not lied
    volunteered to help an experimenter for an
    average of 2 minutes, those who had lied
    helped for approximately 63 minutes!
  – More likely to help if our guilt is public
• Negative mood
  – For adults, not children, a bad mood increases the
    likelihood of helping behavior.
  – It appears that adults have learned that helping is a
    self-gratifying behavior.
  – Exceptions to this tendency include feelings of anger
    and grief.
• Positive mood
  – Happy people are helpful people.
  – Parking ticket study: fear turning to relief increases
    helping behavior significantly.
             Personality Traits
• No one trait predicts altruism
• However,
   – There are individual differences in helpfulness over
   – Network of traits (emotionality, empathy, self-efficacy)
     are linked to helping.
   – High self-monitors help if they believe it will be
     socially rewarded (interaction of personality and
   – Men more likely to help in dangerous situations;
     women in safer situations.
            Religious Faith
• Religious commitment is linked to a
  greater likelihood of long-term, planned
  helping behavior.
• Weekly attendees of church/synagogue
  (24% of population) give 48% of all
  charitable contributions.
   How do we teach altruism?
• Teach moral inclusion
  – If we are more likely to help those who are
    like us, expand that group.
• Model altruism
  – Even television can be helpful here!
• Attributing behavior to altruistic motives
  – Avoid overjustification effect. That is, don’t
    coerce people into altruism, don’t reward
    them too much, etc.

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