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A verbal or physical act intended to cause harm to people or property
Biological perspective of aggression
We are born with a tendency to behave aggressively – genetically predetermined
Social perspective of aggression
Aggression is social behavior that we learn from those around us
Biological theories of aggression
- Psychodynamic theory
- Evolutionary approach
Psychodynamic perspective of aggression
- People hold two innate, but opposing, instincts: life (Eros) and death (Thanatos)
- Freud (1930)
What is aggressive behavior a result of, according to psychodynamic theory?
- A result of a natural build up of tension in the body, which eventually needs released to restore balance
- Result of displacement of self-destructive tendencies onto other targets
What is wrong with the psychodynamic theory of aggression?
Very little empirical evidence to back it up
What do evolutionary social psychologists believe about aggression?
It is a social behavior that evolved over time, passed down from generation to generation
According to evolutionary theory, why does aggression exist in social behavior?
- To ensure that an individual’s genes survive for long enough to be passed to their offspring
- Simpson and Kenrick (1999)
What are the two problems with the evolutionary approach to aggression?
- 1. Inherently difficult to provide supportive evidence in a short-term lab test
- 2. We aren’t just aggressive to protect ourselves – we are also aggressive toward relatives
Social theories of aggression
- Frustration-aggression hypothesis
- Cathartic hypothesis
- Cognitive neoassociationalist model
- Excitation-transfer model
- Social learning theory
Who influenced the frustration-aggression hypothesis?
Dollard and colleagues, 1939
What is the frustration-aggression hypothesis?
- Idea that aggression is a direct consequence of feelings of frustration that people experience
- Used to explain hate crimes during times of economic difficulty
- Levels: frustration at a person or event → aggression → inability to direct aggression at true target → aggression redirected onto a realistic target
What are the criticisms of the frustration-aggression hypothesis?
- 1. Little subsequent empirical evidence to support findings
- 2. Where a link between frustration and aggression does exist, it is unlikely to be spontaneous or direct
Who proposed that frustration caused by economic downturn would produce aggressive impulses that would be directed at vulnerable targets even when the group bears no responsibility for economic decline?
Hovland and Sears, 1940
How did Hovland and Sears (1940) support their proposition on aggression and economic downturn?
Statistical relationship between lynching of blacks in the South and economic downturns
What is the cathartic hypothesis?
- When faced with a frustrating or irritating situation, we experience a build up of emotions (from day to day irritations) → creates imbalance
- In order to get rid of the emotions, we need to act them out
- Then we can return to our normal, balanced state
- Some supportive evidence
What did Bushman, Baumeister and Stack (1999) find out about catharsis and aggression?
- Evidence against cathartic hypothesis:
- Found that angry participants who had read a pro-catharsis newspaper article continued to show aggression toward the person who had caused the anger even after engaging in the cathartic exercise of hitting a punching bag
Who developed the cognitive neoassociationalist model?
What is the cognitive neoassociationalist model?
- Frustration generates anger, which in turn prepares people to behave aggressively
- This state will only lead to aggressive behavior if an appropriate environmental cue is present
What can be a cue for aggression in the cognitive neoassociationalist model?
Any object or person that has been linked repeatedly with anger and aggression in the past
Who conducted a study on the cognitive neoassociationalist model and what were the methods/results?
- Berkowitz and LePage (1967)
- To see if situational cues lead to aggression when a person is angry
- Male college students given varying numbers of electric shocks by a confederate as part of an ‘evaluation’ for a previously completed task
- The more electric shocks, the angrier they reported being
- They were then given the opportunity to evaluate the performance of the confederate by giving them electric shocks in return
- Two conditions: situational cue with a shotgun and revolver and control with nothing
- In non-angry participants, the weapons had no effect on the number of shocks administered
- Angry participants gave more shocks in the presence of weapons
- The weapons effect
What is the weapons effect?
Weapons provide the means to cause violence but they also increase the likelihood that an act of violence will occur
What is the excitation-transfer model?
- Non-specific arousal in one situation can carry over into a completely different situation
- We differentiate arousal by labeling it depending on external cues
- Arousal caused by one stimulus is transferred and added to arousal elicited by a second stimulus
What is residual arousal?
Arousal from one situation carrying over into a completely different situation, inadvertently affecting our behavior in that situation
Crisp, Heuston, Farr and Turner (2007) performed what study on aggression?
- Routes to aggression in soccer fans when their team loses
- 60 male supporters of a small team were approached as they left the field following a loss
- Each supporter completed a questionnaire asking how much they identified with the team, the extent to which they experienced emotions of anger and sadness as a result of loss, and if they intended to confront or avoid fans of opposing team
- High identification = more likely to experience anger and to instigate a confrontation if they lost
- Low identification = more likely to feel sad and avoid opposing team fans
- Closely related to social identity theory and self-esteem
What is Skinner’s argument about changes in behavior in relation to aggression?
- Operant reinforcement
- The strength of the link between an event and behavior (stimulus-response) depends on whether the behavior is rewarded or punished
What is observational learning?
Learning how to behave by observing the way in which other people behave
What is the social learning theory?
- Bandura (1977) proposed that people learn how to behave by observing the behavior of others
- Based on operant conditioning principles of rewards and punishment shaping behavior
- We are not born with innate behavior, we learn how to behave over time through observation
How did Bandura apply social learning theory to aggression?
- Whether a person is aggressive in a particular situation depends upon the person’s direct and indirect experiences of aggressive behavior, and the outcomes of that aggressive behavior (reward or punishment)
- Then people decide whether or not an act of aggression would have positive or negative outcomes
Who performed the study on learning aggressive behavior through modeling, and what were the methods/results?
- Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961)
- Girls and boys between 3 and 5
- Child settled in one corner playing
- Male or female adult model to opposite corner with a toy set, mallet, and a Bobo doll
- Aggressive model condition: adult spent a little time playing with toys and then spent rest of time physically and verbally abusing Bobo doll
- Non-aggressive condition: adult ignored Bobo doll for entire session
- The kids were then put in a different play room and told they could play with any toy they wanted
- Children who had observed an aggressive model imitated the model
- Boys showed more aggression than girls overall, but they were more likely to show aggression when the model was male, while the girls showed more aggression when the model was female
- This shows that behavior is observed and copied selectively (some models had more influence)
What are two criticisms of social learning theory in relation to aggression?
- 1. It does not sufficiently take into account the role of individual differences in aggression that result from genetic, neuropsychological and learning differences
- 2. Many studies have not replicated the effect of televised aggression
Person-centered determinants of aggression
- Gender differences
What is the hormonal explanation for gender differences in aggression?
- Men = testosterone
- Berman et al. (1993) – men with higher testosterone were more likely to show aggression during a competitive task
What is gender socialization?
Females and males are treated differently in society, resulting in different patterns of behavior
Who performed a study on gender differences and aggression, and what were the results?
- Bjorkqvist et al (1992)
- Boys tended to show higher levels of physical aggression than girls
- There were not gender differences in verbal aggression
- Girls showed higher levels of indirect aggression
What is indirect aggression?
- Attempts to harm another person without a face-to-face aggressive encounter
- Gossiping, spreading rumors, social exclusion
What traits did Caprara and colleagues (1994, 1996) identify with aggression?
- Emotional susceptibility
What trait did Gleason and colleagues (2004) find to be reciprocal with aggression?
People who score low on agreeableness (those who place self-interest above getting on with others) have higher levels of direct and indirect aggression
Type A personality and aggression
May be particularly susceptible to aggression
What are Type A personality traits?
- High achieving
- Always in a rush to achieve their goals and compete with others
- Greater risk for coronary artery disease
What are Type B personality traits?
What hypothesis did Carver and Glass test in 1978, and what were the methods/results?
- Type A personalities would show more aggression under threatening circumstances
- Male undergraduates were exposed to a confederate who threatened their sense of competence by denigrating their performance on a perceptual motor task
- They were then given the opportunity to administer an electric shock to the confederate
- Type A = larger electric shock if threatened
How is self-esteem implicated in aggression?
Low self-esteem has traditionally been considered to be a primary cause of aggression and social psychologists have used low self-esteem to explain the behavior of violent gang members, domestic violence and terrorists
Are the implications of low self-esteem in aggression correct?
There is little direct evidence for a causal relationship between low self-esteem and aggression
What do some psychologists say about high self-esteem and aggression?
People with high self-esteem are more likely to act aggressively because they are less likely to feel guilt about treating people poorly if they believe they are beneath them and they are more confident that their aggressive behavior will have positive outcomes
Who, specifically, suggested that people who have high self-esteem or egotism are more likely to show aggression? Why?
- Baumeister, Smart and Boden (1996)
- Because they regard themselves as superior and will be more sensitive to threats to their superiority
What is the relationship between alcohol and aggression?
- Many studies have shown that people under the influence are more aggressive
- More alcohol = more aggression
Who conducted a study of the effect of alcohol consumption on aggression and what were their methods/results?
- Giancola and Zeichner (1997)
- 60 males consumed ETOH ostensibly to study the effects on competitive performance
- Some were tested at ETOH levels past 0.08% and some below 0.08%
- They were then told they would be competing against a man in the next room in a reaction time test and they were told they won/lost half the time
- When they won, they were allowed to deliver a shock to their opponent
- When they lost, they received a shock
- Dependent measure was the intensity of shock delivered to opponent
- Men who had drunk alcohol delivered shocks of greater intensity to their opponent when levels were ascending
What theory offers and alternative explanation for the effect of alcohol on aggression?
Alcohol expectancy theory: argument that drunken people behave aggressively because of their expectations about alcohol that will affect their behavior
What are the broad topics in situation-centered determinants of aggression?
- Physical environment
- Perceived place in society
What three aspect of the physical environment can influence levels of aggression?
How does temperature influence aggression?
- Higher the temp, higher aggression level
- Not in extremely high temps though (75 degrees or higher) – curvilinear relationship
- Only in affective aggression where the purpose is to cause harm
What is the curvilinear relationship of temperature and aggression?
- Cohn and Rotton (1997)
- The hotter the weather, the more assaults there were
- But as temps topped 75 degrees F, the number of assaults began to decrease
What is instrumental aggression?
Serves a purpose other than causing harm (robbery)
How can crowding influence aggression?
- High density of people = aggression
- Crowds increase physiological arousal, stress, irritation and frustration
- People feel anonymous and less accountable for their actions
Lawrence and Andrews (2004) performed what study on crowds and aggression?
- Looked at crowded prison
- Inmates who experienced crowding were more likely to interpret behavior of others as aggressive
- Changes in perceptions may contribute to the outbreak of aggression – reciprocity principle
What is the reciprocity principle and how is it related to aggression?
- Universally held belief that we should treat others as they treat us
- People are more likely to behave aggressively if they are provoked by the aggressive behavior of another person
How can noise influence aggression?
- The presence of unwanted sound, especially loud or unpredictable, can lead to an increase in aggression
- Increases physiological arousal and feelings of stress
How did Glass and Singer (1972) test the effects of noise on aggression?
- Had participants do a math task under noisy conditions or quiet
- Noisy condition = more mistakes on proof-reading task and more frustration
What is relative deprivation?
Refers to a person’s perception that they are being unfairly disadvantaged, and believes they cannot improve this through legitimate means, when compared to other people or groups, they act aggressively
What happens when an individual/group is feeling relative deprivation?
They may behave aggressively (vandalism, assault, riots)
Cultural influences in aggression
- Inter-cultural – easier to study
- Western v. non-Western – controversial
Cultural differences in society
- Southern and Western states of US are more aggressive than rest of nation
- Nisbett and Cohen (1996)
What is the culture of honor?
General set of norms and values associated with a higher level of aggression in certain regions
What is a subculture of violence?
- Subgroups within a particular society that hold a set of norms and values that endorse aggression and violence toward others
- Aggression is directed at both outgroup and ingroup members
What is disinhibition?
A weakening of the normative constraints which usually lead to the avoidance of aggressive behavior
Two causes of disinhibition
What is deindividuation?
Process by which people lose their identity as an idiosyncratic individual and come to perceive themselves as an anonymous – and therefore less accountable – group member
What is collective aggression?
An act of aggression committed by a group of individuals, regardless of whether those individuals know one another
How does disinhibition and deindividuation factor into aggression?
They make the individual less accountable and anonymous in their acts, so there are fewer negative consequences for their actions
What did Leon Mann (1981) find out about crowd baiting and collective aggression?
- He looked at 21 cases of crowds being present when a suicidal individual is threatening to jump off a building/bridge/tower
- In 10 of the cases, the victim was baited (jeered at and encouraged to jump) by the crowd below
- This is associated with the crowd being large, with a distance between them and the jumper, and occurring at night. All of these factors ‘deindividuated’ the crowd members
What is the emergent norm theory?
- People behave aggressively when they are in a group not because they ignore the societal norm of non-violence, but because they adhere to a different group norm of aggression that may arise in a particular circumstance
- This may be linked to the social identity theory in that when some group members begin to behave aggressively, other members may adhere to the new norm
- Criticizes disinhibition/deindividuation
What is dehumanization?
- Occurs when people fail to see others as unique human beings, reducing likelihood of empathy, guilt or shame and legitimizes actions
- Deindividuation of the victim
Abu Ghraib (2004) found what about dehumanization and American soldiers?
American soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad by putting sandbags over their heads (anonymity) and treating them like animals (dehumanization)
The Rwandan genocide was a result of what?
Dehumanization of a group of people, justifying and legitimizing mass genocide
What is an explanation for the dehumanization of victims?
What is delegitimization?
When a group is seen as threatening the norms and values of the ingroup, it may be placed in an extremely negative social category, allowing aggression against that group to be justified
- Verbal or physical aggression toward a relationship partner or other family member
- People are more likely to be killed or physically assaulted by members of their own family than by anybody else
How many calls a year do police receive in the UK, reporting domestic violence?
Some factors believed to contribute to domestic violence
- Increased amount of time spent with family members
- Dependence of family
- Physical proximity = targets of frustration and stress
- Alcohol abuse
- Previously abused individuals
Verbal or physical aggression toward someone that has a sexual component
Unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct of sexual nature
Some factors believed to contribute to sexual aggression
Availability of violent porn
Zillman and Bryant (1985) performed what study on sexual aggression?
- Male participants were exposed to low, medium or high levels of pornography
- Their attitudes toward rape and violence were then measured
- Participants who had viewed a large amount, and who had been insulted, viewed rape more tolerantly, recommending lower prison sentences for the crime
What study did Donnerstien and Berkowitz (1981) perform on sexual aggression and what were the methods/results?
- Study on the effect of pornography on actual violence
- Female confederate insulted male participants
- The male participants watched one of two versions of a sexually violent film
- Then were then given the opportunity to behave aggressively toward the confederate who had insulted them
- Compared to the control, men who had been insulted and watched either of the films administered larger shocks to the female confederate
- When they had not been assaulted, they administered larger shocks to the female confederate if they had watched the version where the girl appeared to be enjoying the rape
What is the rape myth?
The inaccurate belief that women secretly enjoy being sexually assaulted
What is acquaintance rape?
Cases of rape in which the victim knows the perpetrator or is romantically involved with him
What is token resistance?
Controversial argument that women sometimes say ‘no’ to sex when they mean ‘yes’, increasing the likelihood of acquaintance rape as a result of a misunderstanding
When do people become terrorists?
Traditional view: targeting individuals and criminal profiling
What is the staircase to terrorism?
- Moghaddam’s (2005) psychological model which may help to explain how and why certain individuals come to commit such acts of terrorism
- It gives a broader perspective to conditions that lead to terrorism
Floors/levels of the staircase to terrorism
- Ground floor – perceptions of relative deprivation
- First floor – perceptions of procedural justice
- Second floor – displacement of aggression
- Third floor – adoption of an alternative moral code
- Fourth floor – categorical thinking and perceived legitimacy
- Fifth floor – the terrorist act
Ground floor in the staircase to terrorism
- Perceptions of relative deprivation
- Terrorists are the people who, regardless of how affluent or educated they are, perceive there to be injustices regarding their groups’ position in society relative to other groups
- This floor has hundreds of millions of people on it
First floor in the staircase to terrorism
- Perceptions of procedural justice
- Important factor: how fair the individual perceives their government to be and how much of an opportunity they have to take part in the decision-making process or voice dissatisfaction
- Individuals perceive there to be opportunities for them to individually move out of their deprived social group to a better position they are unlikely to go further up the staircase
Second floor in the staircase to terrorism
- Displacement of aggression
- Blaming other groups for their perceived problems because they cannot publicly voice their dissatisfaction on floor one
Third floor in the staircase to terrorism
- Adoption of an alternative moral code
- Recruitment into terrorist organizations
- Accept an alternative morality
- They are martyring themselves for a just goal
Fourth floor in the staircase to terrorism
- Categorical thinking and perceived legitimacy
- Recruits to terrorist organizations become parts of small cells
- Encouraged to think categorically and highlight the difference between “us and them” to legitimize the terrorist goals
- Little opportunity to escape
- Strong control of individual actions
Fifth floor in the staircase to terrorism
- The terrorist act
- Civilians are categorized as part of the outgroup and the psychological difference between the ingroup and outgroup is exaggerated
- The soon-to-be terrorist dehumanizes and delegitimizes the enemy group
Actions that are generally valued by other people in a particular society
Examples of prosocial behavior
Acts where people voluntarily and intentionally behave in a way they believe will benefit others
An act which benefits others but is not expected to have any personal benefits
Evolutionary perspective of prosocial behavior
- We are biologically predisposed to help others
- We are born with an in-built tendency to look after those around us, even if it does not have any obvious benefit for us
- Preference for helping blood relatives because this is increase the chances for genes to pass on
Criticisms of evolutionary perspective of prosocial behavior
- Cannot explain why we help friends and complete strangers; not just relatives
- No empirical evidence
- Cannot explain why people help in some circumstances but fail to help in others
- Predicts that we should help blood relatives in all situations, but this is not the case (child abuse)
- Reflect what is considered normal and acceptable in a given group, culture or society
- Common-held beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that have a powerful influence on how we behave
Three normative beliefs responsible for helping behavior
- Reciprocity principle
- Social responsibility
- Just-world hypothesis
- We should help those who help us
- Favor for favor
- We are more likely to reciprocate to another person if they previously made a big, unexpected sacrifice for us
- We should help those in need regardless of whether they have helped us or are likely to help us in the future
- We should help others when they are dependent on us
- We should help others who deserve help
- Just-world hypothesis
- General belief that the world is a just, fair place where people get what they deserve
- Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people
- Tendency to help others only if we believe their suffering is through no fault of their own
Criticisms of social norms in prosocial behavior
- We may verbally endorse the idea of helping others, but we do not necessarily act on this endorsement (Teger, 1970)
- Need for persistence (Warren and Walker, 1991)
What did Warren and Walker (1991) study about social norms?
- Need persistence – how long help is needed for
- People were more likely to donate money to a refugee family from Sudan when the family only needed assistance in the short term
- Implies that internally held beliefs and situational factors play into whether people help or not
Modeling in prosocial behavior
- Reason why we have a tendency to engage in helping behavior is that we have learned to do so by observing the behavior of others
- Focuses on external factors
Bandura (1977) says what about modeling and social learning theory?
Modeling shows us what behavior is appropriate and increases self-efficacy but it only leads to helping if it had a positive outcome
Bryan and Test (1967) performed what test on modeling in prosocial behavior?
- Motorists passed a woman whose car had a flat tire
- Modeling condition – another car had pulled over and appeared to be helping her change the tire, motorists then came across a second woman who car had a flat tire and wasn’t receiving assistance
- Control – drivers saw no model prior to coming across the car with the flat tire
- Motorists who had observed a model helping the woman were more likely to stop for the second than if they had not observed a model
Rushton and Campbell (1977) performed what test on modeling in prosocial behavior?
- Female participants interact with a friendly woman
- Told they were participating in a study on social interaction (cover)
- When the women left the lab, they were asked if they would make a pledge to give blood
- When friendly woman (confederate) was asked first, 67% also agreed
- When participant was asked first, only 25% agreed
Hornstein (1970) conducted what study on modeling in prosocial behavior?
- Participants observed another person returning a lost wallet
- Person returning wallet was either pleased or displeased
- When participants came across another a lost wallet, those who had observed the positive reaction were more likely to help than those who had observed the negative reaction
When an individual who has observed someone in an emergency situation makes the decision to actively help that person
Which case led to research in understanding why people help in some situations and not in others?
Kitty Genovese (1964)
Kitty Genovese’s case led to what two models?
- Latane and Darley’s cognitive model
- Piliavin’s bystander-calculus model
Latane and Darley’s (1968) cognitive model
A bystander goes through 4 cognitive stages before making a final decision about whether or not to help a person in an emergency situation
Stages of the cognitive model
- 1. Attend to the incident
- 2. Define the incident
- 3. Accept personal responsibility
- 4. Decide what to do
Attend to the incident (cognitive model)
Bystander needs to actually notice that an incident is taking place
Define the incident (cognitive model)
Bystander needs to define it as an emergency
Accept personal responsibility (cognitive model)
Depends on whether there are other people present who might deal with the problem instead and/or how competent the bystander feels in the situation
Decide what to do (cognitive)
- If they have made it through the first 3 stages, the bystander must decide whether it is possible for them to help, and, if so, what they can actually do in the situation
- Highly influenced by other’s behaviors
Latane and Darley (1968) tested their model in what way?
- Investigating when and whether the presence of other bystanders would influence responses to an emergency
- First experiment
- Completed a questionnaire on their own or with two other participants
- Room filled with smoke to create emergency situation
- In condition with two other participants, they were either genuine or confederates who ignored the smoke
- 75% of participants who were alone raised the alarm by reporting the smoke
- 38% with participants took action
- 10% with confederates took action
- Second experiment
- Participants communicated with one another via microphones while in separate cubicle
- Led to believe they were taking part in a group experiment consisting of two, four or six people
- One participant said he suffered from epilepsy
- Later, he was heard to be making sounds of distress and then fell silent
- The more bystanders people thought there were, the less likely they were to help
- 85% helped if they thought they were the only other participant
- 64% helped with two others
- 31% helped with four others
Bystander apathy effect
People are less likely to help in an emergency when they are with others than when they are alone
Processes underlying bystander apathy effect
- Diffusion of responsibility
- Audience inhibition
- - Normative social influence
- - Informational social influence
Diffusion of responsibility in bystander apathy effect
In some situations there is a clear emergency, but when others are present, people believe they are less personally responsible
Audience inhibition in bystander apathy effect
- People are inhibited from helping for fear of negative evaluation by others if they intervene and the situation is not an emergency
- Influenced by normative social influence and informational social influence
Normative social influence in audience inhibition
People want to go along with the majority even when they do not privately agree
Informational social influence in audience inhibition
If those around us appear to be unconcerned, we may conclude the situation is not a true emergency
Garcia, Weaver, Moskowitz and Darley (2002) performed what study on the bystander apathy effect?
- Imagining the presence of others
- 129 undergrad students randomly assigned to one of three conditions
- Group condition – asked in a questionnaire “imagine you won a dinner for yourself and 10 of your friends”
- One person condition – “imagine you won a dinner for yourself and a friend”
- Control condition – not asked to imagine
- Then participants were asked how much time they were willing to spend on another experiment (0 – 30 min)
- Participants who imagined a group of 10 people offered significantly less of their time than did people who imagined one person
- No statistical difference between one person and control condition
- Explained this by saying they were influenced by the accessible feeling of being in a group, which diminished responsibility and helping attitudes
Third experiment by Latane and Darley (1976) on the bystander apathy effect
- 5 different conditions
- 1. Alone
- 2. Diffusion of responsibility – awareness of another participant
- 3. Diffusion plus social influence – awareness and observation of other’s behavior without being observed themselves
- 4. Diffusion plus audience inhibition – awareness, couldn’t see other but knew they could be observed
- 5. Diffusion plus social influence plus audience – awareness, could observe and was observed
- Participants were asked to observe another person respond to verbal stimuli and rate whether or not that person had received an electric shock
- They were told that they would observe the person on a TV monitor from another room
- Extra TV monitor and camera in room that determined conditions
- Experimenter was “shocked” and the participants were timed on how long it took them to help the experimenter in each condition
- Alone – quickest and most likely to help
- Diffusion of responsibility – reduced helping behavior
- Diffusion plus social influence or diffusion plus audience inhibition – low helping behavior
- Diffusion plus social influence plus audience - lowest
Piliavin’s bystander calculus model (1981)
- Takes into account the role of diffusion of responsibility in explaining bystander interventions, but also takes into account people’s physiological response when they witness an emergency situation
- Three stages
- 1. Physical arousal
- 2. Labeling the arousal
- 3. Calculating the costs
Bystander calculus model (definition)
We respond to an emergency by feeling physiological arousal, labeling that arousal as personal distress or empathic concern, and then calculating the costs of helping versus not helping before making a decision on how to act
Physiological arousal (bystander calculus model)
- Orienting action – lowered physiological response allowing us to assess the situation and decide how to proceed without panicking
- Defense reaction – rapid increase in physiological response, preparing us to act
Labeling the arousal (bystander calculus model)
- Personal distress – we want to reduce our distress so we help
- Empathic concern – proposed by Batson and colleagues – as long as we believe we are similar to the person in distress and can identify with them, we experience empathy and focus on the person in need
Calculating the costs (bystander calculus model)
- Consider the costs of helping and the costs of not helping in order to reduce their personal distress
- When the cost of helping is low and cost of not helping is high, a bystander is likely to directly intervene in an emergency
Why does the bystander apathy effect occur, according to Piliavin et al?
The presence of others reduces the cost of not helping
Shotland and Straw (1976) performed what study on the bystander calculus model?
- Participants watched a videotape of a fight between a man and a woman
- One condition: woman shouted “Get away from me! I don’t know you!”
- Second condition: woman shouted “Get away from me! I don’t know why I ever married you!”
- Participants believed the woman was in greater danger when fighting with a stranger
- They were more likely to intervene when they observed a woman fighting a stranger because the costs of helping were lower and the costs of not helping were higher, than for the domestic fight
Primary goal of cognitive model and bystander calculus model
To explain the situational factors that influence helping behavior
Jonas, Schimel, Greenberg and Pyszczynski (2002) performed what study on prosocial behavior?
- Fear of death from environmental cues
- Study 1:
- 31 pedestrians stopped and asked to take part in a short survey about charities
- Mortality salience manipulation: stopped in front of a funeral home or several blocks away from funeral home
- Asked participants to indicate how beneficial, desirable and necessary they thought the two charities were
- People were more favorable when mortality was made salient
- Study 2:
- 27 American students in a lab-based test
- Mortality salience condition: “Please briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you” and “Jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you as you physically die and once you are physically dead.”
- Control condition: similar questions about dental pain
- Then given the opportunity to donate money to charity (US or other country)
- When people were made aware of their own death they donated significantly more money to the charity that would benefit people from the same culture as them
- Behaving prosocially helps us to manage our fear of death
Terror management theory
Human beings have a strong survival instinct, but also possess the intellectual capacity to realize that one day we will die and we can become paralyzed with fear at the prospect of our own mortality. To stop this from becoming overwhelming, we hold a cultural worldview which provides a sense of meaning to the world and maintains our belief that our lives are important and significant
Perceiver-centered determinants of helping
While accepting that there are situational differences in helping behavior, this is the idea that some people might be innately more helpful across situations than others
What did Latane and Darley (1970) discover about personality and helping behavior?
- No relationship between a host of personality traits and helping behavior
- No effect of trustworthiness, need for approval on helping behavior
Berkowitz and Daniels (1964) said what about personality and helping behavior?
Social responsibility – helpers scored higher on a social responsibility scale than nonhelpers
Locus of control in prosocial behavior
- Reflection of where they place the responsibility for the outcome of events in their lives
- Internal locus = more likely to help
General tendency to feel empathy and are more likely to help
Limitations of personality as a determinant in helping behavior
- The evidence is correlation but cannot infer causality
- Need to take into account situational influences
If a bystander feels they will be able to competently deal with an emergency, they will be more likely to help
Cramer et al (1988) performed what study on prosocial behavior?
- Registered nurses and non-medical students
- Rigged accident
- Nurses more likely to help because they perceived themselves as competent
What does perception of competence influence?
Increasing perceptions of competence can increase the probability of helping behavior
Baumeister et al (1988) performed what study on competence in prosocial behavior?
- Allocated some participants to leadership positions
- Had a member of team choking on the intercom
- 80% of leaders offered assistance
- 35% of followers offered assistance
- Acting as a leader increases the bystander’s perception of personal responsibility, eliminating the possibility of passing responsibility on to another group member
Mood and prosocial behavior
In general, good moods increase helping behavior while bad moods reduce helping behavior
Isen (1970) performed what study on mood and prosocial behavior?
- Asked participants to complete a task on which they were told they had either performed very well or very poorly
- Other participants were given no feedback or did not complete a task at all
- Participants who thought they had done well were more likely to help a woman struggling to carry some books than others
Affect priming model
- Bower (1981)
- When we are in a good mood, mood-congruent information in our memory is more accessible so positive thoughts and feelings, including a positive orientation to prosocial behavior, are more likely to be activated
Affects as information model
- Schwartz (1990)
- We use our current mood as a piece of information to help us understand how we feel about things in our environment
Regan, Williams and Sparling (1972) did what study on negative psychological states and helping behavior?
- When participants had been led to believe they had broken an expensive camera, they were more likely to help another person who had dropped some groceries
- Explained by image reparation hypothesis and negative relief-state model
Image reparation hypothesis
- Guilty people want to make up for what they have done
- Does not explain why they are willing to help someone unrelated to the incident
Negative relief state model
Because guilt leads to a negative affective state, people help in order to feel good about themselves again
Batson (1994) says what about our motives for helping others?
Sometimes our motives are altruistic and other times they are egoistic
- Explains why we sometimes help for egoistical reasons and sometimes for altruistic reasons
- - Personal distress = self focused
- - Empathic concern = victim focused
Batson and colleagues performed what study on empathy-altruism?
- Asked female students to observe a female confederate appearing to receive electric shocks as part of a study
- The confederate appeared to be in a great deal of pain
- The participants were given the option of taking the place of the confederate for the rest of the experiment
- They were told the confederate was similar to them or dissimilar
- Difficult to escape condition – they had to watch the entire experiment
- Easy to escape condition – they could leave soon
- If the sufferer was thought to be similar to the participant, a high proportion offered to take her place, regardless of escape condition
- If sufferer was thought to be dissimilar, they only offered to help when they could not easily escape
Who performed a study on gender differences in helping and what were the results?
- Eagly and Crowley (1986)
- No differences in the amount of help
- Differences in type of help
- - Men more likely to help women than men
- - Women equally likely to help both genders
- - Men more likely to help strangers
- - Women more likely to help in everyday situations
Similarity and group membership in helping
We are more likely to help those who we believe are similar to us
Emswiller et al (1971) performed what study on similarity and helping?
- Confederates dressed conventionally or as a hippy and asked passers-by for money
- Students were more likely to help the confederate who was dressed in a similar way than those dressed differently
How does attractiveness factor into helping behavior?
We are more likely to help attractive people
Benson et al (1976) performed what study on helping behavior?
- Attractiveness and helping
- Completed university applications were left in airport phone booths with an attractive or unattractive photo of the applicant
- People were more likely to send off the materials of the attractive applicant than the unattractive applicant
Responsibility for misfortune and helping
We are more likely to help people who are in need through no fault of their own than those we believe are responsible for their misfortune
Barnes and colleagues (1979) did what study on helping?
- Responsibility for misfortune
- Confederates called participants pretending to be students asking to borrow their class notes
- Either needed them because they weren’t good at taking notes or because they didn’t want to go to class
- Participants were much more likely to help the confederate if they were perceived to be less responsible for their need for help (not good note takers)
Receiving help and prosocial behavior
- Some people appreciate the help, others don’t
- This can partially be answered by the threat to self-esteem model
Threat to self-esteem model
- Nadler and Fisher (1986)
- Proposes that characteristics of the help-giver, helping situation and help-recipient interact to determine whether participants feel self-threat or self-support
- Recipients will feel good and react positively if they feel supported, but they will feel bad and react negatively if they feel threatened
Blaine et al (1995) performed what study on helping?
- Threat to self-esteem
- Participants imagined they were a stigmatized person who received their job either because of their qualifications or because the employer felt sympathy for their condition
- Participants reported lower self-esteem, more negative affect and lowered work motivation when the job was offered out of sympathy