Sample Exam Questions for "Altruism"

Last updated:
07 Nov 2005


  1. What is the difference between prosocial behaviour and altruism?
  2. Compare the Evolutionary Social Psychology explanation of altruism with the New Social Psychology (Harré) explanation of altruism.
  3. Explain the group selection and inclusive fitness perspectives from evolutionary psychology on prosocial behaviour.
  4. What's your view on whether there can be genuine altruism or whether all helping behaviours are ultimately for self-serving ends and why?

Multiple choice

A behaviour that is motivated by the desire to benefit another without expectation of personal gain is specifically termed:

a. prosocial behaviour
b. helping behaviour
c. altruistic behaviour
d. virtuous behaviour
e. egoistic behaviour

In relation to prosocial behaviour, “learning by vicarious experience” suggests that the nature of any action taken will:

a. be selfless, that is, altruistic
b. depend on whether the model is male or female
c. depend on what happens to the model
d. be mindless
e. be based on instinct

The bystander effect describes a social phenomena in which bystanders are _____________ likely to help someone in distress the _________ the number of witnesses to the event.

a. less, fewer
b. less, more
c. more, more

According to the phenomenon known as the 'bystander effect' when a person is obviously in trouble and needs help:

a. in terms of probability, one or more of a group of bystanders is more likely to help than a bystander who is alone
b. a bystander who is alone is more likely to help than any of a group of bystanders
c. if the bystanders are ordinary people then help is the most distant thing from their minds
d. a bystander will always help regardless of whether they are alone or with others
e. none of the above

Applying the bystander-calculus model of bystander intervention to the case where the cost of helping is high, but the cost of not helping are low, the bystander can:

a. ignore the situation
b. deny the problem
c. leave the scene
d. all of the above
e. none of the above

Evolutionary social psychology attempts to account for prosocial behaviour by arguing that:

a. imprinting causes humans to help their own species
b. humans are socialised over a long period of time and, unlike lower animals, they learn to help others in trouble.
c. a willingness to sacrifice oneself increases probability that both kin and the species will survive
d. through natural selection some humans, such as certain tribes, have acquired a helping gene
e. both a and c

Studies of helping behaviour in young children have shown that children who:

a. were rewarded after offering help were more likely to help again
b. were punished after offering help were less likely to help again
c. saw a model helping someone tended to imitate the model
d. all of the above
e. none of the above

A woman has just dropped her groceries after leaving the supermarket. Which bystander is most likely to come to her aid? One who :

a. is feeling guilty after breaking a bottle in the supermarket
b. is running late for a medical appointment
c. has been in a bad mood all day
d. is in the presence of many other bystanders
e. all are equally likely to help

The search for personality correlates of prosocial behaviour, such as attributes that might distinguish ‘helpful’ persons from other persons, has:

a. found traits that clearly distinguish ‘helpful’ persons from others
b. only reported weak correlations between personality traits and helpfulness
c. not yet been attempted
d. supported a strong relationship between demographic variables and helpfulness
e. found a strong correlation between the Type A personality and helpfulness

When another person is distressed, the emergency may trigger either of two sets of responses in an audience. These can be labelled by the audience as either: ____________________ or ________________

a. personal distress: empathic concern
b. audience inhibition: diffusion of responsibility
c. the costs of helping: the costs of not helping
d. an orienting reaction: a defence reaction
e. rewards of helping: costs of helping

In an artificially contrived situation involving a ‘fire’, Latane and Darley (1970) reported that participants who were alone were more likely to report the smoke than were participants who were with other strangers. This finding suggested that people :

a. succumb quite easily to group pressure
b. occasionally manifest a death wish
c. use others to decide how to interpret an unusual situation
d. favour a contingency model of leadership
e. both c and d

The results from field studies and laboratory studies of bystander intervention have found:

a. more helping in the laboratory than in the field
b. more helping in the field than the laboratory
c. no differences between rates of helping in the laboratory than the field
d. inconclusive results

Studies examining the relationship between gender and helping have found that:

a. males are more helpful
b. females are more helpful
c. no sex differences
d. mixed results

Which of the following factors HASN'T been found to influence helping behaviour:

a. gender
b. being in a hurry
c. perceived competence
d. IQ
e. self attention

According to the Just-World Hypothesis:

a. some victims deserve their fate
b. all victims should be helped
c. the world is a just place
d. you should help others who are dependent
e. both a and c

When the concept of ‘learning by vicarious experience’ is applied to the domain of prosocial behaviour it indicates that action taken:

a. will be selfless, that is, altruistic
b. depends on whether the model is older or younger than the observer
c. can be either selfish or selfless, depending on the consequences for the observer
d. tends to be mindless
e. is based on instinct

Jamie believes that help should be given freely to the needy, no matter whether they can repay the favour. This belief is called:

a. the reciprocity norm
b. the social responsibility norm
c. the just-world hypothesis
d. the egalitarian principle
e. collectivism

Training people to cope in emergency situations is based on research that has found that _____________________________.

a. Trained people feel better about themselves
b. Trained people are less likely to panic
c. Trained people feel competent to perform tasks
d. Trained people have higher IQs
e. Trained people are more competent in performing tasks

Kurt, an amateur climber, joins a search-and-rescue team in his local alpine area. Since he was guided in this by the reciprocity principle, we can be fairly sure that he hopes to:

a. show off his climbing skills
b. spend even more time outdoors
c. get the chance of getting free rides in the chopper
d. receive help himself if he needs it
e. help others for no personal reward

Heartless Harry was not sympathetic to helping a woman being robbed because she had “strayed to the wrong part of town”. This is an example of:

a. a normative influence
b. the just-world hypothesis
c. the modelling effect
d. old-fashioned chauvinism
e. the reciprocity norm

The ________________ contributes to ______________.

a. uncertainty principle; the norm of reciprocity
b. just-world hypothesis; social satisfaction
c. fundamental attribution error; the just-world hypothesis
d. humanistic world view; social isolationism

Among the criticisms of the social norm explanation of helping behaviour are that _____, _____ and _____. Choose the one answer which does NOT belong.
a. the normative model does not explain why some people help but, in the same situation, many others do not
b. some social norms are so general and varied that they tend to explain very little about the critical determinants of any act of helping
c. individuals are socialised to be aware of the needs for individualism and privacy which confuse and contradict helping norms
d. the model does not explain the role of evolution in prosocial behaviour

Harre's (1983) view is that a fundamental motivating force for human beings is the pursuit of:

a. happiness
b. honour
c. acceptance
d. equality
e. superiority

Ron Harré argues that human social behaviour can be largely explained in terms of rule-following and conformity to convention. Primarily, this is an example of explanation at the _______________________ level.

a. intrapersonal
b. interpersonal
c. positional
d. cultural/ideological
e. objective

The New Social Psychology notes that while practical aspects of daily life occupy about ___________ of our time, expressive aspects of activity occupy about ____________ of our time.

a. 50%, 50%
b. 40%, 60%
c. 30%, 70%
d. 20%, 80%
e. 10%, 90%