Social Psychology


Top of Page


Links:     •  Self Test
                •  Print Friendly Version
                 •  Social Psychology Index

When Do People Help?

Ψ  Altruism is an unselfish act of genuine care toward another in a given situation in which no form of payment is expected. "Altruism is selfishness in reverse."

Ψ  Social-Exchange Theory is a perspective that explains social change & stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties. Social exchange theory posits that all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis & the comparison of alternatives.

Ψ  Social Norms idealize how we ought to be behave.

  •  The reciprocity norm: suggests how we act in service to someone else because they had previously done it for us.

  •  The social-responsibility norm: societal rule that tells people they should help others who need help even if doing so is costly. This agent differs from the reciprocity norm in that we are aware of no trading of services. This norm illustrates altruism because it prescribes that we be inspired to help someone in need & never ask for or expect anything in return.

Ψ  Bystander Effect: When there is an emergency, the more bystanders there are, the less likely it is that any of them will actually help.

     Bystanders go through a five-step process, during each of which they can decide to do nothing.

    1. Notice the event (or in a hurry & not notice).
     2. Interpreting: realize the emergency (or assume that as others are not acting, it is not an emergency).
      3. Assume responsibility (or assume that others will do this).
       4. Know what to do (or not)
        5. Act (or worry about danger, legislation, embarrassment, etc.)

     Factors that reduce the bystander effect:

    1. Bystanders know one another.
     2. Witnesses have a special bond to the victim.
      3. Bystanders think that the victim is especially dependent on them.
       4. Bystanders have considerable training in emergency intervention.
        5. Witnesses have knowledge of the bystander effect.

    new Related Concept

     Pluralistic ignorance is occurring when a person assumes nothing is wrong because nobody else looks concerned.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates