Psychology management help online: Social psychology theory & Interpretation in Altriusm
Social Behaviour or Social Psychology is the scientific study of the manner in which individuals think and feel about, interact with each other and influence each other both in groups as well as individually, in this we study the social behaviour which means the behaviour as well as the thinking of individuals and the manner in which they related to other human beings. That is why the area chosen for the study of social behaviour the bustling Subway Station of New York is situated at Union Square. Here after studying the social behaviour of the students coming and going to the station we have tried to relate it to the social psychological theory related to Altruism which will help us in finding why some students demonstrate pro-social behaviour while others show helping behaviour.
While spending time observing the group of students without letting them know that their social behaviour has been observed very keenly, a close eye was kept at the college going students who boarded the early morning train and then went back by boarding another train from the same subway station in the evening.
It was found that these students did not rush or push while catching their train although there was huge crowd at the station. Rather they always made it a point to help the old and needy people who get into the train or to walk up or down the stairs. They even aided the small kids who had problem in getting into the train or coming out. The students and their friends waiting for the train helped elderly women and men to get on and off the train and that too every day.
If someone elderly and aged women or men carried heavy luggage they made it a point to keep their luggage on the train or to get it off the train along with helping them to getting on or off the train. Moreover before getting into the train they made it a point to talk to these elderly people and inform them that they will make sure that the elderly people will get into the train whenever the train arrives. So that they do not panic and enter the huge grow and might get hurt while trying to get into the train.
These social activities were witnessed especially amongst the young group of students amongst the huge bustling crowd of the Union Square Subway station, where so many people board and get off the train every day. Amongst the huge crowd where everyone is in a hurry to catch the train or to get off the train to reach their destination no one bothers to lend a helping hand to the elderly or physically handicapped people rather sometimes the general public even pushes people around. This might lead to accident or unusual happenings which can cause harm to the elderly people.
The behaviour which benefits other person or has positive social consequences is defined as Pro-Social Behaviour (Staub, 1978). The behaviour which intentionally benefits or acts as helping hand for other people is called the Helping Behaviour. It can also be said that it is being planned for “making a difference” in the society. In the same manner here too the attitude of the young students depicting a helping hand for the elderly women and men to get and off the train is a social behaviour which can be termed as helping behaviour.
Altruism is form of social behaviour where one helps other person without any expectation of reward and helps at some cost to oneself. Altruism is clear example of pro-social behaviour when you help others at the cost of your own self. According to the Empathy-Altruism hypothesis we usually empathise with people who are in distress, which motivates us to help in relieving the person out of distress (Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Bucldey, & Birch, 1981). In this case the students feel altruistic and that is why empathising with elderly people (Altruism and bystander behaviour, 2011).
Like in the case of social behaviour shown by young students, they might miss their own train or might get late for their classes while helping the elderly people is the cost which they might have to bear, then too they help others which is a true example of ‘Altruism’ (Staub, Basic human needs, altruism and aggression, 2004).
According to the “the Selfish Gene Theory” (Dawkins, 1976) it is proposed that there is an innate desire for the purgation and survival of one’s own genes. It is the genes which compete, not the individuals or the species. These genes as proposed by Dawkins are the fittest ones for survival and depict selfishness in ruthless manner. As social behaviour the animals or people group want to make sure that these genes get transferred to the future generations and that is why these students were helping the elderly women and men on the subway station going out of the way. However this theory is unable to explain why students were willing to help the people to whom they are not related at all. May be the ego factor which makes the students help the elderly people, which helps them to feel better and thus prompts the students to help.
Therefore we will take help of Reciprocal Altruism Theory (Trivers, 1971) which is related to biological altruism. This theory effectively explains the evolution process of altruism and that too amongst the individuals who are not related to each other. According to this theory through mutual cooperation both the individuals increase the chances of their survival. Reciprocal Altruism (Trivers, 1971) has been tested through game called prisoner’s dilemma where if the opponent is cooperative then the other player partner is also cooperative thus following a stable strategy. This is seen in the social behaviour observations at the Union Square Subway Station too.
Another supporting study showed that people experience two kinds of emotions whenever they see someone suffering. One emotion is personal distress which causes egoistic helping while the other is empathetic concern which causes altruistic behaviour (Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Bucldey, & Birch, 1981)(Batson et al 1981). A research on heuristics also shows that the decisions of individuals are usually made on the basis of fast and frugal decision rules due to which some of the information available to them is being ignored (Gigerenzer & Goldstein, 2011). There is evidence which suggest that some decisions are made in better manner when they are based on limited information (Gingerenzer and Brighton 2011; Kahneman 2011). Thus if limited information is available to the students about the people whom they help they help them in better manner based on heuristic strategies.
From the above observations and interpretations of the social behaviour shown by the students at the subway station it can be inferred that they help the elderly and needy people because of the Selfish Gene Theory because of the dominance of the gene, however Reciprocal Altruism Theory explains that they expect the same kind of helping behaviour for either their parents or for themselves when they grow old that is why they do so
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