Chapter 12 Helping Behavior
Definitions • Altruism means helping someone when there is no expectation of a reward (except for feeling that one has done a good deed) • Prosocial Behavior includes any act that helps others, regardless of motive. Prosocial Behavior Altruism
Definitions • Types of Helping (McGuire, 1994) • Casual help, e.g., giving directions • Substantial help, e.g., lending $$ • Emotional help, e.g., listening • Emergency help, e.g., taking someone to E.R.
Definitions • In general, we tend to be more helpful to those we know and care about than to strangers
Theoretical Perspectives • An Evolutionary Perspective • Many examples of prosocial behavior have been observed among animal species. • Endangering one’s own life to help another, on the surface, seems incompatible with reproductive fitness. • “Kin selection” provides an explanation. • Animals help others more who are genetically related. • Mothers are more helpful than fathers. • However, these ideas are controversial.
Theoretical Perspectives • A Sociocultural Perspective • Human societies have gradually evolved beliefs or social norms that benefit the welfare of the group. • Norm of Social Responsibility • Help those who depend on us • Norm of Reciprocity • Help those who help us • Norm of Social Justice • Maintain equitable distribution of rewards
Theoretical Perspectives • A Learning Perspective • We learn to be helpful through reinforcement and observation. • Children help and share more when they are reinforced for their helpful behavior. • Children and adults exposed to helpful models are more helpful. • For children, helping may depend largely on reinforcement, but as they get older, helping may be internalized as a value.
Theoretical Perspectives • A Decision-Making Perspective • People decide whether or not to offer assistance based on a variety of perceptions and evaluations. Help is offered only if a person answers “yes” at each step.
Theoretical Perspectives (Latané & Darley, 1970)
Theoretical Perspectives • Perceiving a Need • Characteristics that lead us to perceive an event as an emergency: • Event is sudden & unexpected. • Clear threat of harm to a victim. • Harm will increase unless someone intervenes • Victim needs outside assistance. • Effective intervention is possible.
Theoretical Perspectives • Taking Personal Responsibility • Being given responsibility increases helping. • Perceiving oneself as competent to help increases the likelihood of taking responsibility.
Theoretical Perspectives • Weighing the Costs and Benefits • At least in some situations, people weigh the costs and benefits of helping and of not helping. • However, in other cases, helping may be impulsive and determined by basic emotions and values rather than by expected profits.
Theoretical Perspectives • Deciding How to Help & Taking Action • In emergencies, decisions are made under high stress. Well-intentioned helpers may not be able to give assistance or may mistakenly do the wrong thing.
Theoretical Perspectives • Attribution Theory • We are more likely to be empathetic and to perceive someone as deserving help if we believe that they did not cause their problem.
Who Helps? • Mood and Helping • People are more willing to help when they are in a good mood. • Mood-maintenance • Good moods increase positive thoughts • “Feel good” effect is short lived.
Who Helps? • Mood and helping • Negative moods sometimes lead to more helping. • Negative-state relief model suggests that people may help as a way to make themselves feel better. • Less likely to occur if a person is focused on themselves and their own needs.
Who Helps? • Personal Distress refers to our own emotional reactions to the plight of others. • Occurs when we are preoccupied with our own feelings and leads us to focus on reducing that distress. • Fosters “egoistic helping:” We’ll help only if we cannot easily escape the situation or ignore others’ suffering.
Who Helps? • Empathy refers to feelings of sympathy and caring for others. • Occurs when we focus on the needs and the emotions of the victim. • We are more likely to feel empathy for those who are similar to us and those who did not cause their own distress. • Fosters altruistic helping.
Who Helps? • Toi & Batson (1982) • All participants learned about Carol, who had broken both legs in an accident and needed assistance catching up with schoolwork. • High empathy condition was told to focus on Carol’s feelings; Low empathy condition was told to be objective. • 71% high empathy, 33% low empathy helped.
Who Helps? • There is a controversy over interpreting studies on empathy. • Batson views empathy as increasing altruistic motivation • Cialdini argues that helping based on empathy is not entirely altruistic because the helper’s goal is to improve his/her own mood.
Who Helps? • Personality Characteristics • There is no single type of “helpful person.” Rather particular traits and abilities lead people to help in different specific types of situations. • E.g., people who help in potentially dangerous emergencies are bigger and tend to have training in coping with emergencies.
Who Helps? • Gender and Helping • Men are more likely to engage in helping that is heroic and chivalrous. • Men are more likely to help strangers—especially if the person needing help is female, if there’s an audience, and if the situation is dangerous.
Who Helps? • Gender and Helping • Women are more likely to engage in helping that is nurturant. • Care-giving, emotional support, doing favors.
Bystander Intervention • Bystander effect = people are less likely to help (and take longer to help) the more people there are present • Kitty Genovese murder sparked research • Why does the bystander effect occur? • Diffusion of responsibility • Pluralistic ignorance • Evaluation apprehension
Bystander Intervention • Environmental Conditions affect helping. • People are more helpful when it’s pleasantly warm and sunny. • People are more likely to help strangers in small towns & cities than in big cities. • What matters is current environmental setting, not where person was raised. • Explanations: anonymity of cities, fear of crime, information overload, feelings of helplessness.
Bystander Intervention • “Good Samaritan” study (Darley & Batson, 1973) • Participants were seminary students asked to give a short sermon • Some were told to hurry across campus, others to take their time • 63% of those not in a hurry vs. 10% in a hurry helped a groaning stranger they passed. • Time pressure particularly affected those who believe their research participation was of vital importance (Batson et al., 1978).
Volunteerism • Volunteer helping is planned, sustained, and time-consuming. • Motives for volunteering: • Expressing Values • Gaining knowledge, skills, & experience • Gaining social approval and new relationships • Advancing career • Putting aside own problems • Gaining personal growth & self-esteem • Self-focused reasons may promote long-term helping.
Caregiving • Most helping is given to friends and relations. • Helping given to strangers is usually spontaneous, that given to intimates is usually planned. • Women are more involved in care-giving helping than are men.
Receiving Help • Reactions to receiving aid are quite varied.
Receiving Help • Attribution Theory • If being helped implies a personal deficiency rather than a difficult situation, it can be threatening to self-esteem. • If being helped implies the others’ genuine caring, it can boost self-esteem.
Receiving Help • The Costs of Indebtedness • Helping is most appreciated when it can be reciprocated so that an equitable balance is maintained in the relationship. • One-way helping threatens equity and creates power imbalances.
Receiving Help • Reactance Theory • Helping may be perceived as a threat to independence and induce reactance. • According to reactance theory (Brehm, 1966), people want to maximize their personal freedom and choice. Feeling that one’s freedom is threatened leads to negative reactions.
Receiving Help • New Ways to Obtain Help • Self-Help Groups minimize the costs of being helped because they offer opportunities for reciprocal helping and foster knowledge that others have the same problem. • Computers can provide assistance anonymously and with no expectations of reciprocity and also minimize costs of being helped.