Theories of Altruism
Hedonism: acts of altruism are really selfish acts that benefit the actor
- Emotional satisfaction
- Reduction of negative feelings in the actor
Reciprocal altruism: natural selection favors animals that are altruistic
if the benefit to each is greater than the cost of altruism
- The bystander effect (BE) is a well studied, phenomenon (Darley and Latane and colleagues)
- BE is that people are less likely to provide needed help when they are in groups than when they are alone.
- Reviews of studies on over 6,000 subjects in a variety of helping situations indicate that subjects who are alone help about 75% of the time, while subjects in the presence of others help about 53% of the time.
- The bystander effect is believed to occur because of diffusion of responsibility – when the responsibility is divided among many, everyone thinks that someone else will help.
Myers, D. G. (2001). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2001). Psychology (6th ed.) (pp. 643-688). New York: Worth.
Westen, D., Burton, L., & Kowalski, R. (2006). Psychology. Australian and New Zealand Edition. Queensland: Wiley.