Why Do People Help Others? Essay

570 Words3 Pages
To discuss why people help others we must consider whether people are by nature selfless or selfish. The dominant view today in psychology is of universal egoism; that we are fundamentally selfish, and that altruism (helping motivated by the wish to benefit another person) an impossibility.One form of universal egoism is Piliavin et al’s "arousal: cost-reward" model, whereby faced with a potential helping situation we weigh the probable costs and rewards of alternative courses of action, then arrive at a decision which produces the best outcome for ourselves.Darley and Batson (1973) conducted an experiment into the effect of the cost time in the decision to offer help. They found that 63% of students with plenty of time to get…show more content…
Piliavin found that there is evidence of racism occurring in our decisions to help when he found that blacks were much more likely to help a black drunk, and whites a white drunk. This suggests that we are less likely to help those with the least genes in common with us.Chagnon & Bugos (1979), in an analysis of fighting in Southern Venezuela, found that the likelihood of a person helping another was strongly correlated with their genetic relatedness to the person.However, how do we account for cases of altruism on the part of animals who are not related? This could be explained by the fact that all members of a species have an element of shared genes even if not at all closely related. Trivers (1971), however, proposed the principle of delayed reciprocal altruism, whereby animals return favours, therefore helpful behaviour is worthwhile because it is likely to be returned. For example, Packer (1977) observed that male baboons which assisted another male in courting were more likely to receive this help in return. Batson (1987), in contradiction with universal egoism proposed the "empathy-altruism" hypothesis. He saw helping as the result of feeling empathy (experiencing another’s emotions). By experimentally manipulating the degree to which his subjects experienced empathy or personal distress in a potential helping situation Batson showed that empathetically aroused
Open Document