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Explaining prosocial behavior: Why do people help?

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  1. Explaining prosocial behavior: Why do people help? Michał Wartoń

  2. Prosocial behavior • It is a helpful action that benefits other people without necessarily providing any direct benefits to the person performing the act, and may even involve a risk for the person who helps.

  3. Unselfish motives „It was the right thing to do” „That was the way my parents rised me” „The Lord put me there for a reason” Selfish motives Hope for a reward Prospect of being rewarded by spending all eternity in heaven Motives for prosocial behavior:

  4. FOUR MAJOR THEORIESthat attempt to explain prosocial motivation • Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis • Negative-State Relief Model • Empathic Joy Hypothesis • Genetic Determinism Model

  5. Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis It is the proposal that prosocial behavior is motivated solely by the desire to help someone in need (Batson & Oleson, 1991). Person observes emergency Person provides help simply because victim needs help and because it feels good to provide help

  6. Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis • „It feels good to do good” • Motivated solely by unselfish desire • Willing to engage in unpleasant, dangerous, and even life-threating activity • Truly value • Experimental procedure by Batson and his collegues • Low empathy • High empathy

  7. Empathy avoidance • Most individuals seek to avoid empathy aroused, thus avoiding the need to engage in something difficult • Shaw, Batson & Todd’ s research (1994)

  8. Empathy and selective altruism A person with resources can be motivated by: • egoism („First you take care of number one”) • empathy (directed at a single group member – selective altruism for an individual who arouses person’s emotions).

  9. Negative-State Relief Model Person observes emergency Negative affect is aroused by the emergency situation, or person is experiencing negative affect based on something else Peron provides help in order to reduce own negative affect and make the helper feel better It is the proposal that prosocial behavior is motivated by the bystander’s desire to reduce his or her own uncomfortable negative emotions (Cialdini, Baumann & Kenrick, 1981).

  10. Emphatic Joy Hypothesis Person observes emergency Situation leads to desire to act and to have positive effect on the victim Person provides help In order to engage in an activity that has successful outcome making the helper feel good It is the proposal that prosocial behavior is motivated by the positive emotion a helper anticipates experiencing as the result of having a beneficial impact on the life of someone in need (Smith, Keating & Stotland, 1989).

  11. Short summary: • Based on emotions • Affective state as a crucial element • Increase affect & decrease negative affect • Feeling good & feeling less bad • Helper’s high Depending on the specific circumstances, each of the three models can make accurate predictions about how people will respond.

  12. Genetic Determinism Model Person observes emergency Unconscious desire to help occurs if the person perceives the victim to be genetically similar to himself or herself Person provides help in order to maximize the chances of survival of genes that are like those of the observer It is the proposal that behavior is driven by genetic attributes that evolved because they enhanced the probability of transmitting one’s genes to subsequent generations (Pinker, 1998)

  13. Genetic Determinism Model • We simply do so because we are built that way • Human is programmed with respect to: • Help • Prejudice • Attraction • Mate selection • Clutton- Brock explanation to selective perception • Both empathy and prosocial acts depend on the similarity between victim and bystander • No evidence of a gene that determines prosocial behavior

  14. Summarizing We respond to the needs of others on the basis of a variety of motives. Regardless of the underlying reason for any specific prosocial response, it can be agreed that one very positive aspect of human behavior is that we frequently are willing to help those in need.

  15. Thank You