Pro Social Behaviour, Selfish or Selfless? Discuss with Reference to Social Psychology

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What is Social Psychology? “Social psychology is the attempt to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of human beings.”. (Allport, 1935). Social Psychology is an objective, value free endeavor, as stated by Stainton Rogers (2003). I would like to make the argument whether prosocial behavior is selfish or selfless. Firstly, What does it mean to be prosocial? Prosocial behavior is an act that is positively valued by society (A. Trace, Lecture 2, 2012), or they can be acts that intentionally benefit another human being. Secondly, I believe that prosocial behaviour can be both selfish and selfless, completely depending on the person who is doing the act. Are there internal or external rewards for the act? Or is the act truly altruistic? Altruism is defined as “the unselfish regard for the welfare of others” (Myers, 9th Edition). You may wonder how this is important with regards to psychology. Myers stated that altruism became a concern of social psychologists after a vile sexual attack and murder on Kitty Genovese. Following this introduction, I am going to make references to psychology regarding experiments, question why do we help? And I will also discuss points for each argument. Social psychology and prosocial behaviour are contributing factors to helping behaviours. McDougall argued that prosocial behaviour is the result of “tender emotions” created by the parental instinct (1908). There is a meso level of analysis that examines helping behaviours at a personal level, where one helps another person. So, when do people help? Firstly we have to consider the bystander intervention. The term bystander effect is a phenomenon that means; the bigger number of people present, the less likely people will be willing to help a person in distress. It was first created by

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