Culture prosocial behaviour
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Culture & Prosocial Behaviour. Are there differences in prosocial/helping behaviour? Within a culture e.g. urban versus rural areas Between cultures e.g. individualist versus collectivist cultures. Intra-Cultural Variations. Urban Overload Hypothesis (Milgram, 1970)

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Culture & Prosocial Behaviour

  • Are there differences in prosocial/helping behaviour?

    • Within a culture e.g. urban versus rural areas

    • Between cultures e.g. individualist versus collectivist cultures

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Intra-Cultural Variations

  • Urban Overload Hypothesis (Milgram, 1970)

    • People who live in cities are exposed to high levels of environmental stimulation

    • They develop strategies to cut out excessive stimulation

    • One such strategy is to avoid interactions with strangers – this leads to a reduction in helping behaviour in some situations

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Culture & Prosocial Behaviour

  • Most research into prosocial behaviour carried out in US and Europe

    • May be problems generalising

    • Values attached to prosocial behaviour likely to be affected by culture

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Types of Culture

  • Individualistic

    • Based on values of independence, competition, achievement and self-interest

    • Prosocial concerns likely to be limited to immediate family/close relationships

  • Collectivistic

    • Based on values of mutual interdependence, loyalty and group membership

    • Prosocial concerns likely to be extended beyond family, at least to members of same social group

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  • Comparative studies of helping in children

    • Those from collectivist cultures (e.g. Kenyan, Mexican, Hopi Indian) generally more helpful, co-operative than individualist (US, UK)

    • US/UK children tend to compete even when working towards common goals.

  • Likely that individualist cultures raise less helpful, co-operative kids due to need to compete in later life (capitalism)

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  • Prosociality does seems to depend on child rearing to some extent

    • Collectivist cultures tend to have extended family structures in which children take responsibility for younger siblings from an early age (Whiting & Whiting, 1988)

    • May explain variation between e.g. Kenyan & UK kids

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  • Likely that individualist and collectivist cultures help others for different reasons

    • Individualist – helping motivated by personal rewards e.g. feeling good about yourself

    • Collectivist – helping motivated by continued survival of group, possible future reciprocation

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  • ‘Individualist’ and ‘collectivist’ invite us to see all cultures as falling neatly into two camps. They don’t.

  • Research studies have used limited samples and generally involve a single favour, so not long term.

  • Usual problems of conducting cross-cultural research (e.g. trust, language) also apply.