Altruism Altruism Chapter by niusheng11


Chapter 9
Reading on Reserve
Questions to be Addressed
• What is Altruism?
• What motivates people to help others?
• Are differences in the tendency to help others
• What kind of prosocial moral reasoning is
  involved in altruism?
Discussion Question:
What is Altruism?
• Rooted in the Latin word alter – meaning other
• Altruism – means “living for others”
• Key component – selflessness – an unselfish
  regard for the welfare of others
• Altruism was ignored as an area of study in
  social psychology until the mid-20th century
  even though Auguste Comte coined the term 100
  years prior
Discussion Question:
Discussion Question:
Altruism vs. Prosocial Behavior
• Need to consider the role of selflessness and an
  individual’s motivation for helping
• Altruism – p. 245 – “refers to acts that are
  carried out voluntarily by individuals who have
  no concern for themselves and who have no
  expectation of any kind of reward.”
• Prosocial behavior – p. 245 – “is a broader
  category of helping behavior that does not stress
  personal motives, whereas altruism must involve
  some kind of clear self-sacrifice.”
Discussion Question:
Discussion Question:
Motivation to Help:
Social Exchange Theory
• The decision to help others involves a cost-
  benefit analysis
• We enter into relationships because we derives
  some personal benefit from doing so which
  suggests that no act is truly altruistic
• From this perspective, helping is done out of
  self-interest (egoistic motivations).
• What do you think of this perspective?
Motivation to Help:
Batson’s Model – Empathy-Altruism
• Batson argues that true altruism does exist and
  that empathy is what sets it apart as altruism
• He argues that a person’s motivation for helping
  may involve urges that are either egoistic or
 ▫ Egoistic – people help others hoping to reduce their own
   personal distress (feelings of guilt, worry, shame, fear, etc.)
 ▫ Altruistic – people help others because they feel empathy
   toward them and their situation (feelings like compassion,
   warmth, softheartedness, etc.)

• What do you think of these ideas?
Motivation to Help:
Evolutionary Theories
• Perhaps helping behavior is a matter of natural
• Darwin suggested that “altruistic animals risk the
  survival of their genes by engaging in self-sacrificing
  behaviors that threaten their long-term reproductive
• There are three ways that altruistic genes might be
  passed on:
  ▫ Kin Selection
  ▫ Reciprocity
  ▫ Group Selection
Motivation to Help:
Evolutionary Theories
• Kin Selection
 ▫ Proposes that we are more likely to act
   altruistically when it comes to saving our relatives
• Reciprocal Altruism
 ▫ Suggests that helping in the short run increases
   the probability that our genes will be protected in
   the future.
 ▫ What goes around, comes around
 ▫ Helps explain non-kin helping behavior
Motivation to Help:
Evolutionary Theories
• Group Selection
 ▫ This perspective argues that groups consisting of
   cooperative members are more likely to survive
   and pass on their genes than groups composed of
   selfish members
Process of Helping
Process of Helping:
Assuming Personal Responsibility
• We often times ask ourselves a number of
  questions in this stage:
 ▫ Does the victim “deserve” help?
 ▫ Do we have the expertise or competence necessary
   to help?
 ▫ Do other bystanders share responsibility for
    Diffusion of responsibility – refers to the tendency
     for bystanders to diffuse the responsibility for
     helping among themselves
Process of Helping:
Situational Factors
• Time
  ▫ Do we have the time to help?
• Presence of others
  ▫ The bystander effect
• Size of place
  ▫ Larger the city size, the less likely people are to help a
• Moods and Emotions
  ▫ Good moods = more helpful behavior
  ▫ Bad moods = sometimes more helpful behavior,
    sometimes less helpful behavior (in children)
  ▫ Guilt = more helpful behavior
Discussion Question:
• What does the research on situational factors
  influencing helping behavior teach you about
  how you have been approaching your service-
  learning experience thus far? (pp. 254-261)
 ▫   Time
 ▫   Presence of others
 ▫   Size of place
 ▫   Moods and emotions
Discussion Question:
• Can you manipulate any of these factors to
  produce more helping behavior from the MOJH
  students than what they are already
• If so, how?
• Why?
Motivation to Help:
Social Norms
• Social norms – socially constructed expectations
  for how we ought to act
• Two classes of social norms around helping
 ▫ Norms that invoke rules of fairness
    Norm of reciprocity – “tit for tat”
    The principle of equity – what’s fair?
    Beliefs about justice – you reap what you sow
 ▫ Norms that address questions of social
    we should help people who are dependent upon us
Discussion Question
• Have any of these rules regarding social norms
  influenced your helping behavior in your
  service-learning project this semester?
• Why or why not?
• How?
Unwelcome Help
• What explains why people would not want help?
• Threat-to-self-esteem model – proposes that a
  person’s reaction to assistance depends on how
  help is offered.
 ▫ “providing help in a way that allows for some kind
   of fair exchange also produces a positive effect
   that contains elements of self-support.”
Learning to Help
• The culture into which one is born will shape our
  prosocial and altruistic tendencies.
• We learn norms from our group through the
  process of socialization.
• How do we learn helping behavior?
Theories Explaining How We Learning
Helping Behavior
• Rewarding Altruism and Prosocial Behavior
 ▫ Results of one study showed “subjects who
   received a polite thank-you for giving directions
   were more likely than subjects who were treated
   rudely to later offer help to a confederate.”
• Modeling Altruism and Prosocial Behavior
 ▫ Adults and children learn prosocial behavior
   through modeling
    Adults are more likely to help if they see someone
     model prosocial behavior
Development of Prosocial Behavior
• The tendency to help others increases as
  children mature. Children are able to do more of
  the following as they mature:
 ▫   Understand and accept social norms
 ▫   Take the perspective of others
 ▫   Empathize
 ▫   Feel greater social responsibility and competence
 ▫   Greater moral reasoning – the reasons they give
     for helping
Theories Explaining the Moral
Development in Children
• Cialdini’s Socialization Model of Charitable
 ▫ First step: children view altruistic behavior either
   in a neutral manner or even as punishing because
   they associate it with a loss of rewards
 ▫ Second step: children become aware of social
   norms that prescribe prosocial or altruistic
   behavior. Motivations for helping at this point are
   linked to external rewards.
 ▫ Third step: charitable behavior is intrinsically
Theories Explaining the Moral
Development in Children
• Bar-Tal and Raviv’s Cognitive-Learning Model
 ▫   Phase 1: Compliance – concrete
 ▫   Phase 2: Compliance
 ▫   Phase 3: Internal initiative – concrete
 ▫   Phase 4: Normative behavior
 ▫   Phase 5: Generalized reciprocity
 ▫   Phase 6: Altruistic behavior

 ▫ P. 271, Table 9.6
Theories Explaining the Moral
Development in Children
• Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
 ▫ Pp. 272-273, Table 9.7
 ▫ Proposed that children pass through a series of
   stages of moral reasoning as they mature
 ▫ Suggests an individual’s level of moral
   development is not determined by whether s/he
   decides an action is right or wrong but rather by
   the specific reasoning s/he uses.
 ▫ Reasoning abilities become more sophisticated as
   the child matures
Theories Explaining the Moral
Development in Children
• Eisenberg’s Model of Prosocial Reasoning
 ▫ “At the lowest level of development, children’s
   decisions to help are based on hedonistic concerns
   – how helping will satisfy their own needs or
 ▫ “As they mature, children begin to consider other
   people’s needs.”

 ▫ P. 275, Table 9.8

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