Free Essay

Altruism - Psychology

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By Maazyuki
Words 820
Pages 4
Humans are capable of displaying many behaviours in the different situations they find themselves or see others in. In society, many people have come across situations where help is needed, and proceed to help, even if they do not know who the other person is. This is prosocial behaviour – any behaviour with the intention of helping or benefitting others. A subgroup of prosocial behaviour is altruism, which is helping others with some sort of risk to yourself (such as time, or getting hurt) and not seeking personal gains or rewards (Carter and Grivas, 2005). There is no definite purpose of altruism, but evolutionists theorize that it relates to helping others to preserve our genes.

However, altruism doesn’t just occur spontaneously; the action of helping others without any self-benefit only takes place under certain circumstances. The cost-benefit analysis is when the helper considers the cost (such as their own personal health or time) and benefit (feeling good about themself for helping people) of doing and not doing the behaviour. They will usually be more likely to proceed with the behaviour when the benefit outweighs the cost. Another factor affecting helping behaviour could be personal influences such as feelings and mood. If the person feels guilty for not doing something, they will most likely do whatever it takes to be able to restore a positive view from others and reduce our own personal guilt. When someone is in a happy mood, they are more likely to help others to retain that good feeling of what helping others can do, regardless of what made them happy. Most importantly, situational factors such as interpreting and noticing the situation as one that needs help then taking responsibility for helping play a significant role in altruistic behaviour.

Sometimes, prosocial and altruistic behaviour get confused between. While both are intentional and voluntary, there is one major difference, altruism is purely about the person or group they are helping and the motive behind it. A prosocial act would be helping someone pick up their things if they dropped them. This act has no inconvenience to the helper. An act of altruism would be going to Africa to help build schools and houses and help the poor people who live there with your own money and the money you raise/d, since you don’t get paid for helping others overseas. This counts as an altruistic behaviour because the motive behind going to Africa would only be to benefit those who need help and it causes inconvenience to the helper by using most or all the money they have.

On March 13th, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed and raped numerous times in front of her apartment . She screamed for help and awoke all her 38 neighbours, but they just stood at their windows for as long as 35 minutes and watched the crime take place rather than help (Carter and Grivas, 2005). Although it was quite evident that Kitty’s neighbours understood the situation as being one where Kitty’s life was in danger, taking responsibility for helping was probably the main reason why no one helped. This is explained by the bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility. The bystander effect refers to the fact that when there is a larger group of people present, the less likely someone is going to help a person in distress. This is linked to the diffusion of responsibility, where when there are more people present, it is believed that others are going to help so there is less responsibility to take part in helping.

Wouldn’t a world that was more altruistic be better? Not necessarily. The theory of creating an altruistic society can pose various issues and concerns which breach the ethical guidelines for psychological research. The right to withdraw and volunteer at any given time would be eliminated as the ‘law’ would be to help everyone in any possibly distressing situation. This can also increase the risk of people getting themselves hurt in an extreme situation where anyone’s lives are at stake. Creating an altruistic society would be completely unethical because of these two factors.

Altruism has many diverse definitions across the world, but the ultimate behaviour is the same – helping others for their benefit rather than your own. Altruistic behaviours, although they are not as common as general helping behaviour, has many benefits that come with it. It can lower the distress or anxiety of another person and bring forth positive feelings in both the helper and the person who needs help. It can save the lives of many people without fully knowing it. It can be thought of as giving back to others unselfishly, and bring a purpose or sense of direction to the person helping. So not only does altruistic behaviours help the person receiving, but it also helps the person giving.

Reference
Carter, L & Grivas, J 2005, Psychology stage 1, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd., Queensland.…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Altruism in Society

...Altruism in Society University of Phoenix PSY 400 Altruism in Society Child abuse is more than cuts and bruises. Abuse also involves emotional abuse and child neglect. Along with the physical scars left behind by an abusive parent or individual, a child abused physically and emotionally will have long-lasting emotional scars. Out of the thousands of child abuse cases reported each year, more than half of these victims were age one and under. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention reported more than half of abused children are girls. Child neglect cases accounted for about 30% of child deaths and more than half of those fatalities were children under age four ("Child Maltreatment," 2010). Of the child abuse cases reported, more than 70% were cases of child neglect, 15% were cases of physical abuse, 10% were sexual abuse cases, and 10% were cases of mental abuse ("Child Maltreatment," 2010). History and Nature of Child Abuse The history of Child Protection in America generally divides into three separate eras: Colonial times until 1875, 1875 until 1962, and 1962 until modern day (Myers, 2008). The second era of child protection was the awakening and growth through nongovernmental societies, whereas the third era established itself as the era of government sponsored Child Protective Services (CPS) (Myers, 2008). Before the sweep of nongovernmental CPS in 1875, attempts to intervene in situations of abused children were sporadic (Myers, 2008). The New York...

Words: 2244 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Altruism and Prosocial Behavior

...Altruism and Prosocial Behavior Altruism occurs when our motive from our behavior is entirely for the interest of others and is not motivated by self-interest (Feenstra, 2011). Doing something for someone to make them happy with no alternative motive would be acting altruistically, because your ultimate goal was the happiness of the other person. The happiness of others is the true goal of altruistic motives is for the well-being of another person, not yourself (Feenstra, 2011). You might receive benefits because the person on the receiving end could show gratitude, but being altruistic is not asking or needing gratuity for actions that were made to make one happy. An altruistic person doesn’t look for anything in return for making one happy or doing a good deed for that person. When self-benefits are an unintended consequence of an action, that action is truly altruistic (Feenstra, 2011). The difference between egoistic and altruism is that egoistic is doing something for self-interest unlike altruism which has no motive for the action. Let’s say I do a good deed for someone by mowing their lawn and I do this because I know money will be offered and the money was my motive for mowing the lawn. An egoistic person motives involve an ultimate goal of self benefit. Anything one does as an egoistic person is geared toward self benefit, even though the act may be thought of as a caring act. The bystander effect is an overall tendency to watch while someone needs help. There...

Words: 327 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Altruism and Prosocial Behavior

...Altruism and Prosocial Behavior Altruism occurs when our motive from our behavior is entirely for the interest of others and is not motivated by self-interest (Feenstra, 2011). Doing something for someone to make them happy with no alternative motive would be acting altruistically, because your ultimate goal was the happiness of the other person. The happiness of others is the true goal of altruistic motives is for the well-being of another person, not yourself (Feenstra, 2011). You might receive benefits because the person on the receiving end could show gratitude, but being altruistic is not asking or needing gratuity for actions that were made to make one happy. An altruistic person doesn’t look for anything in return for making one happy or doing a good deed for that person. When self-benefits are an unintended consequence of an action, that action is truly altruistic (Feenstra, 2011). The difference between egoistic and altruism is that egoistic is doing something for self-interest unlike altruism which has no motive for the action. Let’s say I do a good deed for someone by mowing their lawn and I do this because I know money will be offered and the money was my motive for mowing the lawn. An egoistic person motives involve an ultimate goal of self benefit. Anything one does as an egoistic person is geared toward self benefit, even though the act may be thought of as a caring act. The bystander effect is an overall tendency to watch while someone needs help. There...

Words: 327 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Does True Altruism Exist

...Does True Altruism Exist? "Altruism describes a motive that makes people help because of genuine concern for others, to increase the welfare of others" (Fiske, 2010, p. 321). Altruism is when individuals are motivated to help others around them without expecting anything back in return; altruism comes from someone doing a good deed without having to be recognized for doing it. So the big question is "Does true altruism exist?" I think altruism does still exist, we can clearly see that it does especially when we have a natural disaster like the one that many suffered from in the latest EF5 tornado in Moore Oklahoma, many individuals came together to make donations, and their time.  "Altruism has been thought of as an ego defense, a form of sublimation in which a person copes with his anxiety by stepping outside himself and helping others. By focusing on the needs of others, people in altruistic vocations such as medicine or teaching may be able to permanently push their needs into the background, and so never have to address or even to acknowledge them. Conversely, people who care for a disabled or elderly person may experience profound anxiety and distress when this role is suddenly removed from them" (Burton, 2012, p. 1). Briefly Summarize Both Arguments Discussed in Issue 17 (Yes) Daniel Boston, Bruce Duncan, Paula Ackerman, Terese Buckley, and Kimberly Birch do believe that individuals do sometimes help people for altruistic reasons. Empathy is a key factor that...

Words: 584 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Altruism/Mankind Is Good

...Christopher Niemann Monica Hatch Eng. 100-001 June18, 2013 Reflective Essay Altruism: Proof that Mankind is Good Is mankind good by nature or is it a learned behavior? My purpose is to argue that mankind is good by nature. My research source for this will be Natalie Angier’s article on altruism. The title of the article is “Of Altruism, Heroism and Nature’s Gifts in the Face of Terror” as it discusses the desire to give and to sacrifice for sake of others. Natalie Angier is noted to be one of the premier science writers in the United States. She has received awards/recognitions for her research and has published many articles related to on science writing (50). If mankind is capable of having altruism as part of their genetic makeup, it is clear that mankind would then be good by nature. Altruism can be defined as an impulse. An impulse is a reaction to a situation, not a learned response to a situation. Pure altruism is giving without regard to reward or the benefits of recognition. . One example of this is noted in a paragraph in the above mentioned article on altruism. Angier’ talks about this as she wrote about the last of the four hijacked planes on September 11, 2001. It reads “as the last of four hijacked planes advances toward an unknown but surely populated destination, passengers huddle together and plot resistance against their captors, an act that may explain why the plane fails to reach its target, crashing instead into an empty field......

Words: 925 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Altruism

...Altruism in Society (Team Project) (PSY400) Elements of Persuasion The great rhetorician, Aristotle, proposed that the persuasiveness of any argument is based on three elements: ethos—the credibility of the speaker, logos—the strength of the argument, and pathos—the communicator’s ability to emotionally move an audience (O’Quinn, 2009). The ethos of an argument is established by the speaker conveying trustworthiness, expertise in the subject, and an appropriate tone towards the audience. The element of logos is concerned with the logical power of the argument and the strategy utilized to present the argument. Lastly, pathos is the way in which the argument is presented. A persuasive argument should use vivid yet simple language, be applicable to the audience, and cite credible facts. Furthermore, Aristotle’s rhetorical elements are closely mirrored by Myers’ (2008) primary ingredients of persuasion: 1) the communicator; 2) the message; 3) how the message is communicated; 4) the audience. In our campaign to bring awareness of the human rights violation of human trafficking, we have sought to utilize both the elements of logos and pathos to convey the seriousness of the situation. The logical power of the argument is built upon the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and 2003 (TVPA), which stipulates that induced commercial sex, labor, or services is punishable under the law and victims of said induced acts are eligible for government benefits (Human......

Words: 795 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Altruism

...minds of all individuals. A person’s belief in following that ambition is based solely on them. The term “Altruism” was pioneered by August Comte (1851). He characterized that it meant “Devotion to the welfare of others, based in complete selflessness.” In this definition, it puts forth that Altruism is only possible if, one completely disregarded his or her own needs. Times have changed since Comte coined the term. Our economy is in turmoil. It is becoming more common to see selfish behaviors versus selfless. Does that mean Altruism no longer exists? Humans live on a basis of morals, yet that seems to be strained these days. Many fields of expertise have created theories on the basis of Altruism. There are two main perspectives that have been set forth. Evolutionary Psychologists follow Maynard Smith’s Theory of “Kin Selection” (1963). Smith proposed that altruistic tendencies are passed on through genes of an individual’s offspring. That is why a person is greater inclined to help family over a perfect stranger. The Reciprocal Perspective is another theory that has been examined. It states that a person tends to be helpful to others only on the notion that the helpee will return the favor. If these broad views are true, why are there random people helping strangers? Just recently, a prime example of selfishness was followed by a very great show of true altruism. Adam Lanza brutally took the lives of 20 helpless children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. The......

Words: 716 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Definition of Altruism

...THE EVENTS OF SEPT 11 2011 (THE HIJACKING OF THE 4 JETS AND THE ATTACKS ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE AND PENTAGON IN US) HAVE RAISED NUMEROUS QUESTIONS IN VARIETY OF DIFFERENT TOPICS. DOES SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY HAVE AN ANSWER FOR ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS? THERE WAS A LARGE INCREASE IN VOLUNTEERING AFTER SEPT 11thIN US. WHY DID SO MANY PEOPLE VOLUNTEER AFTER SEPT 11? The events of September 11th 2001 changed people’s behaviour in different ways. People’s attitude to volunteering changed in such a way that social psychologists could attribute part of that change to altruistic behaviour. Volunteering and altruism shares common connection as such some volunteering work can be seen as altruistic though not every part of altruism can be said to mean volunteering. Volunteering is just one part of the different parts of altruism. Within this understanding it is possible to say the two concepts are strongly related and connected as well. This essay will try to explore the concept of volunteering in relation to altruism and to show that the large number of people that volunteered after September 11th had their altruistic tendency invoked. Altruism from social psychologists point of view is a prosocial behaviour that has been defined as “a motive to increase the welfare or wellbeing of another person without conscious regard for one’s own self-interests (David Myers, 2010). It is a norm or an act that is highly valued and cherished by individuals and society alike.......

Words: 1091 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Altruism and Pro Social

...Altruism and Pro Social Behavior Social Psychology Naomi Jackson Instructor Cheryl V. Browning Upper Iowa University ALTRUISM AND PRO SOCIAL BEHAVIOR One may ask what causes people to jeopardize their own health and well-being to help other people. What is it that inspires individuals to give their time, energy, and money to aid in the betterment of others, even when they receive nothing tangible in return? Altruism involves the unselfish concern for other people. It involves doing things simply out of a desire to help, not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty, or religious. I’ve noticed that everyday life is filled with small acts of altruism, from the person who greets me going into Wal-Mart to the person who gives a generous donation to the march of dimes. Although news stories often focus on a greater scale of altruism, such as a person risking their life to save a child from a burning building that they don’t even know. To giving a generous donation to a local charity. Social Psychologists are interested in understanding why it occurs. Really, what does inspire these acts of kindness? What motivates people to risk their own lives to save a complete stranger? Altruism is one aspect of what Social Psychologists refer to Pro Social behavior. Pro Social behavior refers to any action that benefits other people, no matter what the motive or how the giver benefits from the action. While all altruistic acts are Pro Social...

Words: 1008 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Altruism

...Altruism is defined as the desire to help another person even if it involves a cost to the helper. The evolutionary view of altruism involves the ideas of kin selection and, the norm of reciprocity. Kin selection suggests that we are more likely to help those related to us, and the norm reciprocity proposes that we will help others if we expect them to return the help in the future. I believe these two concepts show a great unconscious motivator for altruism. The next more conscious part of altruism is the how much will it cost and reward the person who will help as discussed by the social exchange theory. And the final influence is the empathy-altruism hypothesis, which states that when we feel empathy for a person, we will help a person for purely altruistic reasons, regardless of what we have to gain. I believe these three factors to some degree or another play off each other to influence people when it comes to making an altruistic choice to help someone. Some of the other factors are an altruistic personality, influences from culture, gender roles, and religion. An altruistic personality is the qualities that cause an individual to help others, but the weight of a situation can diminish the effect of a personality type. When it comes to gender differences, males are raised to be altruistic in situations that are intense and call for heroic actions. Females are raised to be altruistic in a compassionate manner and long-term situations, like caring for elderly......

Words: 1134 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Altruism

...Altruism 1) Lady Gaga * After Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake in March 2011, Lady Gaga designed charitable bracelets to raise money for relief disaster. The “We Pray for Japan” bracelets raised $250,000 in just 48 hours, and two weeks later another $1.5 million was donated for the cause. * On January 24th, Gaga did a performance in NYC and used all the proceeds as well as earnings form her online store during a special sales event, to donate to Haiti. This raised nearly $500,000 for earthquake relief. * Gaga wanted to increase her reputable image. With the NYC concert part of her tour, she only chose to take proceeds from one of the many shows and donate. Also her wristband proceeds were nothing more then using her fame to raise money. 2) Brad Pitt * After Hurricane Katrina, Pitt founded an organization; “Make It Right Foundation” which built 150 affordable homes for people in New Orleans that are all environmentally friendly. During these efforts he raised nearly $5 million and received an award from the US Green (environment friendly) Building Council. * Although Pitt brought much relief to New Orleans during a time of need, building “affordable” homes still means that at some point builders were making a net profit on these new structures. At the same time they were gaining recognition, which could promote future business. 3) Mark Wahlberg * Wahlberg’s Youth Foundation has donated over $1 million to Boys & Girls clubs...

Words: 495 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Altruism in Society Campaign and Presentation

...Altruism in Society Outline R. Batman, C. Britt, E. Cooksey, A. Klemundt, J. Roberts, S. Thurman PSY/400 June 22, 2015 Professor Dr. Adrian Fletcher Outline Week 4 Altruism in Society Campaign and Presentation Introduction – Emily Cooksey Child abuse is an epidemic that not only affects the child enduring the abuse, but also can set the stage for devastation to the society the child grows up in. Physical abuse can leave scars that are visible, but what about the scars that cannot be seen by the naked eye, the emotional scars that remain can be far more damaging. When a child grows up feeling unsafe and untrusting of adults, they are on a dangerous path that could turn them into unsafe and possibly abusive adults. It is our hope, through vigorously campaigning and the elements of persuasion we can alleviate the hardships that child abuse cause, on both the child and society. Understanding the importance of prevention and intervention, it is our mission to bring awareness as well as reform. Bullet 1- Savannah Thurman Discuss the nature and history of your issue: I. What is Child Abuse? A. Classic Signs 1. Physical State of Child 2. Emotional State of child II. History of child Abuse in the United States? 1. Reported child abuse cases from 1990-2000 vs 2000-2010 2. Intervention that caused the change in numbers Bullet 2 – Jessica Roberts Effects of Child Abuse on Society A. Children......

Words: 1210 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Altruism

...Altruism is the will and intention to help another without regard for oneself. The will or instinct to help others is a driving force for altruistic behavior. Animals can engage in altruistic behavior; however they do not realize that they are being altruistic, therefore the behavior that is exhibited is not altruistic. For a behavior to be altruistic one needs to understand that they are benefiting others at their expense. Humans possess the will necessary to perform altruistic deeds, and can put it to great use. Humans are still animals, and may perform altruistic behaviors without realizing it. Altruism in politics is rare, but it is necessary to prevent social groups from being outcast. A proportional representation system will allow for altruism by helping minorities be represented at all times, while not requiring the current majority to relieve their representative power. Frans deWaal shows that alrutism is actually more natural than it seems, despite the apparent inconsistencies they present. Altruism is a choice to help others over one’s self. Only humans can be truly altruistic, as humans have the potential to make choices and realize their consequences almost completely, however seemingly altruistic events due occur naturally in the animal kingdom. “Taking on the midwife role another female spent no less than two and a half hours assisting the in experienced mother”(deWaal 688). The helper bat did know actually know and think about its actions and consequences.......

Words: 1539 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Altruism

...others: is selflessness really possible? Or is "altruism" merely doing things for others in order to feel good about ourselves? If human altruism exists, how does our neural system deal with it? The issue of altruism is complicated by the lack of agreement about many aspects of it, including its very definition. The word altruism, which comes from the Italian altrui, was coined in 1851 by August Comte to refer to benevolence (2). Although not everyone agrees today on what precisely altruism entails, the most basic definition is seeking the welfare of others (1). This definition is often extended, however, to include the necessity of some personal sacrifice on the part of the altruist; Edward O. Wilson defined altruism as "self-destructive behavior performed for the benefit of others" (1), (3). There is also an idea of reciprocal altruism, which is self-sacrificing behavior with the expectation that the favor will be returned eventually (4). If this behavior is motivated by the desire for future reward, it does not really fit the generally accepted definitions of altruism. In nonhuman animals, altruism is mainly seen in the form of one animal sacrificing or risking its life to save another. Studies of animals by researchers such as Hamilton, who worked with bees who sacrifice themselves to allow the queen to produce offspring with their genetic makeup, have led to an evolutionary explanation of altruism (4). One account of altruism in the animal kingdom is kin selection-that......

Words: 1553 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Altruism

...Altruism in Society Dan Edgar PSY/400 June 7, 2012 Professor Julee Poole Altruism in Society Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Society There are many variables why domestic violence and child abuse go hand in hand in society. We can look at world and the United States economy and see how much stress families are under fighting to put food on the table and clothing on their children’s backs. We can look at how drugs and alcohol play a factor in how domestic violence and child abuse start, and include environmental factors into this equation. If looking at trait factors, we can see patterns of domestic and child abuse within the family unit. If abuse starts in the family, the child will grow to know only that type of relationship. And once he or she has been exposed to abuse, this trend will either continue or stop depending on the individual. Studies have shown that most abuse is within families that are blue collar workers. Their education level and co-dependence allows them only to know this type of behavior Stress within the job market can also bring on abuse within the family. Military personal that are either in a stressful job, deploying to war, or have been to war have a higher rate of abuse within the family. Studies show that individuals that sustain Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have high rates of abuse in the family. These soldiers, airmen, and seaman have had high levels of wartime stress placed upon......

Words: 557 - Pages: 3