It is a subcategory of pro-social behaviour; intentional act that helps or benefits another individual or group of individuals. This can be demonstrated by sharing, comforting, rescuing and helping.Altruistic behaviour is a subcategory of helping behaviour, which refers to pro-social behaviour that is carried out with the desire to benefit another without expectation of obtaining external or internal reward. According to the theory of universal egoism, people are fundamentally selfish and altruism is an impossibility, (Dovidio 1995, as cited in Gross 2001. ) However certain kinds of casual helping (McGuire, 1994) or low-cost altruism (Brown, 1986) seem to be fairly common, such as giving a stranger directions or telling them the time.Pro-social behaviour can be defined as behaviour that has positive social consequences and contributes to the physical or psychological well being of another person. It is thought that Kin Selection is a genetic response to supporting the broader gene pool.
Social conditioning can also have been a cause and pro-social parents lead to pro-social children. The reciprocity norm is when help is given to those who have given help to us in the past or where people help others, knowing that one day they may want someone to help them in the same unselfish way.This can affect people’s way of helping others. As well as the social exchange theory where human interactions are transactions that aim to maximize one’s reward and minimize one’s cost. Also the social responsibility norm is when we should help others who really need it, without regard to future exchanges. It must be remembered that a person’s mood influences whether they would help a person in need. People who are in a good mood are more likely to do good, compared with people who are feeling guilty.
But – if helping is likely to spoil our good mood, we might not help (Isen, 1984. ) Although if the bad mood is guilt and helping can relieve that, we might help. Also people in small towns are more likely to help than those squashed together in cities. Humans estimate the suitability of behaviour using social norms and adjust behaviour by way of social control. In biology, psychology and sociology, social behaviour is either behaviour directed towards society or taking place in between members of the same species.Social influences are considered the most likely factor for an individual to engage in helping behaviour. Social influences can be defined as the sum of all things that may change or affect a person’s behaviour, thoughts, feelings or actions.
Studies on social influences might centre on ways in which behaviour of individuals or a whole group is influenced by outside factors, a person’s outlook or simply how they appear. An example of these influences was demonstrated by Piliavin et al, 1969, when student experimenters would pretend to collapse in a subway compartment.They would fall to the floor and wait to see if they’d be helped. There were two conditions; some would be carrying a cane (known as the ‘lame’ condition), and others would wear a jacket which smelled very strongly of alcohol and carried a bottle in a brown paper bag (known as the ‘drunk’ condition. ) They found that help was offered much less often in the ‘drunk’ than in the ‘lame’ condition. This shows that the importance of difference is a social influence that determines whether a person helps a victim.Therefore the greater the victims’ injury, distress or disfigurement, or the more we disapprove of them or their undesirable behaviour, the more likely we are to perceive them as being different from ourselves.
This makes it less likely that we would offer help. Helping behaviour can also be effected by environmental factors, for instance different areas (rural or urban areas), culture differences, simple factors such as the time of day and also time; whether a person is busy, running late or heading somewhere.In order to see how the cost of time would affect helping behaviour Darley and Batson, 1973 (as cited in Gross, 2001) created an experiment called, “If you need help avoid a late Samaritan. ” This involved participants who were students at a theological seminary, who were instructed to present a talk in a nearby building. The students were halved; one half was told to speak about ‘The Good Samaritan’ while the other half were told to speak about jobs most enjoyed by seminary students. Then each student was told either a. He was ahead of schedule and had plenty of time, b.
He was right on schedule, or . He was late. On the way to their talk, each student passed a man slumped in a doorway, coughing and groaning. The percentages offering help were 63, 45 and ten for conditions a, b and c. Ironically, the results showed that on several occasions the ‘late’ students who were giving a talk about ‘The Good Samaritan’ literally stepped over the victim. This study shows that the cost of time is an important influence on whether an individual chooses to help. Also many studies have found that people tend to help others during daylight when there is no threat to their safety compared with night time.
Also personal factors are very strong influences on helping behaviour. The table below shows the costs of helping/ not helping in emergencies/ non-emergencies, and the likelihood/ type of intervention, as predicted by the arousal-cost-reward model (based on Piliavin et al, 1969. ) Costs of helping/not helping and likely outcome| Examples| Costs of helping are low| You’re unlikely to be injured yourself; the victim is only shocked. | Costs of helping are high| You’d feel guilty; other people would blame you. | Likelihood of intervention very high – and direct| |Costs of helping are high| You don’t like the sight of blood; you’re unsure what to do. | Costs of helping are high| It’s an emergency; the victim could die. | Likelihood of intervention fairly high – but indirect| Call for ambulance/police or ask another bystander to assist| Or redefine the situation| Ignore the victim and/ or leave the scene| Costs of helping are high| “This drunk could turn violent or throw up over me”| Costs of helping are low| “Who’d blame me for not helping? ”| Likelihood of intervention very low| Bystander may well turn away, change seats, walk away etc.
Costs of helping are low| “It wouldn’t hurt to help this blind man cross the road. ”| Costs of helping are low| “He seems capable of looking after himself; there’s very little traffic on the road. | Likelihood of intervention fairly high| Bystanders will vary, according to individual differences and how they perceive the norms operating in the particular situation. | Biological influences are factors concerning human instincts such as self preservation and survival. These influences are difficult to ignore because human instinct is to keep a person safe and out of harm’s way.Therefore there is more likelihood of helping a victim if there is no threat to the helper’s safety. But safety cannot be guaranteed and results in individuals not helping.
Campbell and Church, 1969, as cited in Gross 2001, believed that punishment is a stronger influence on behaviour compared with Skinner’s belief that reinforcement is a stronger influence. In March 1964, Kitty Genovese was attacked in a Queens’s parking lot at 3am. Thirty eight people were reported who watched from their windows, while she was beaten and stabbed to death over a half hour period.Not one bystander called the police until the attacker had fled. This incident raised much concern into why nobody helped. This led Latane and Darley, together with findings from their laboratory studies, to introduce the concept of the ‘unresponsive bystander’ or ‘bystander apathy’ to represent people’s typically uncaring attitude towards others in need of help. The American media thought it was remarkable that out of the thirty eight witnesses not one did anything to help, Latane and Darley believed that it was precisely because there were so many, Kitty Genovese was not helped.
In result to this incident Latane and Darley researched into how the number of bystanders would affect helping behaviour. They found that 90% of the time, a lone bystander was more likely to help than when many people were around. One study was confederates would drop pencils or coins in an elevator and would see if people would help them pick it up. The results were, if only one person was in the elevator, the confederate received help 40% of the time. Only this figure dropped to 20% when six other people were in the elevator. The question “Why does more people = less help? ” is answered with three factors.The first factor is noticing.
Another of Latane and Darley’s studies shows that any given bystander is less likely to notice the incident as the number of bystanders increase. For example, their 1970 experiment was having men fill out a survey by themselves or in a group. Whilst they completed their survey, smoke would start pouring into the room through a vent. After four minutes of smoke, 75% of subjects who were alone reported the smoke to the researcher, while only 12% of the subjects in the group reported it. This supports there theory of “more people = less help. ” The second factor is interpretation.This means the more people that are around, the less likely any will interpret the situation as an emergency.
In the smoke experiment, only 3 of 8 groups reported the smoke. Humans use other people’s behaviour to help measure what the reality of the situation is. The third factor is responsibility. In 1968, Latane and Darley produced another study. Subjects were told they were supposed to discuss problems with University Life. Each subject was put into separate rooms and was told to talk over the intercom. They were also told that no one would be listening to their conversations.
During the discussion, one of the ‘subjects’ began having an epileptic fit and pleaded for help. When the subjects believed they were the only other person in the discussion, 85% left the room to help. However when subjects believed that there were four other people having the discussion, only 31% went to help. This again supports the notion of ‘more people = less help. ’ As cited in R. Gross 2001, Psychology, The Science of Mind and Behaviour, according to Latane and Darley’s 1970 decision model, before someone helps another, that person must: * Notice that something is wrong, * Define it as a situation requiring help, Decide whether to take personal responsibility, * Decide what kind of help to give, * Implement the decision to intervene. This symbolizes a logical sequence of steps, showing that a negative response at any one step means that the bystander won’t intervene.
(See appendix 1 for Decision Model. ) In conclusion, helping in the form of pro-social behaviour has been studied largely in the form of bystander intervention. The murder of Kitty Genovese, together with early laboratory experiments by Latane and Darley supports the notions that when there are more people around, help is less likely to be given.Also that there are many influences that affect helping behaviour, whether it is biological, environmental or social. Nevertheless, altruism is definitely not impossible and humans are not fundamentally selfish. Future research should look into whether gender affects helping behaviour or age, for example, is an adult between 21-30 more prone to help someone rather than a teenager.