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Prosocial Behaviour

Essay by   •  May 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  515 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,828 Views

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Prosocial behaviour is any helpful action that benefits other people without necessarily providing any direct benefit to the person who performs the act. It may even involve some degree of risk.

Altruism, a part of prosocial behaviour is where the behaviour is motivated by an unselfish concern for the welfare of others e.g. rescuing a drowning person. Altruistic person - a person who possesses the five factors that are found in people who engage in prosocial behaviour in an emergency situation. Heroism, also an aspect of prosocial behaviour, is any action that involves courageous risk taking to obtain a socially valued goal e.g. saving the life of a drowning person or donating an organ to someone in need of a transplant.

Apathy on the other hand is acting without emotion or lack of emotion or interest. Bystanders to a prosocial situation may not help due to apathy but due to the diffusion of responsibility where the idea that the more bystanders present, the less responsibility anyone of them feels in respect to dealing with the situation. It could also be attributed to the bystander effect which is the more bystanders, the smaller the share of responsibility and the less likely anyone is to help. Also, the implicit bystander effect which is decrease in helping behaviour brought about by thinking about being in a group is yet another reason why bystanders don't help.

All helpers are faced with cognitive and internal factors which determine whether to help. These five steps used in determining whether to help or not depends on firstly, noticing something unusual is happening - when people are preoccupied with their own personal concerns, they pay less attention to what is going on around them and therefore may not notice an emergency. Little help is given as the potential helper is not aware that an emergency exists. Secondly, correctly interpreting the event as an emergency - whenever potential helpers are not completely sure, they tend to hold back and wait for further information. Not only in the diffusion of responsibility, but also because it is embarrassing to misinterpret a situation and act inappropriately which leads to pluralistic ignorance which is the tendency of bystanders to hesitate and do nothing. Thirdly, deciding that it your responsibility to provide help - in many cases responsibility is clear, firemen in charge of burning buildings, police in charge of collisions, but when responsibility is not clear bystanders assume that anyone in a leadership role should take responsibility. When there is one bystander, he or she takes charge as there is no alternative. Fourthly, deciding that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to help - some emergencies are simple and bystanders need no special skills, but on the other hand when there are special skills needed help in an emergency, only a small portion of the bystanders are able to assist and lastly, making the final decision to

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