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Investigating Gender Differences in Helping Essay

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Investigating Gender Differences in Helping

Aim: To find out whether subjects will help opposite gender students
faster than same sex helper would.

Introduction: Altruism is a form of pro-social behaviour in which a
person will voluntarily help another at some cost to themselves. The
primary motivation for altruistic behaviour is seen as a desire to
improve the welfare of another person rather than the anticipation of
some reward or for any other reason that might indicate self-interest.
One of the major problems for psychologists has been determining what
is truly altruistic and what might be better explained in terms of
egoism. Batson et al.’s (1997) empathy-altruism hypothesis proposes
that empathic concern evokes an altruistic motivation. Studies
supporting this hypothesis have systematically varied whether
individuals can only obtain egoistic goals by helping, or whether they
can escape from the situation and obtain the egoistic goals without
helping. These studies demonstrate that at least some people have
helping intentions that are not explained by egoistic motivations,
such as the relief of personal distress, escaping public shame for not
helping, the relief of sadness, and the desire to make oneself happy.
In one study, Batson et al. (1981) used a placebo drug which had no
real effects but would led participants to interpret their reactions
as high or low empathy. Participants then watched a female confederate
(‘Elaine’) apparently receiving random electric shocks. After two
trials the confederate appeared to become distressed. Participants
were then faced with a difficult decision – take her place (showing
empathetic ...


... middle of paper ...


...ikely to help as they do
not feel any empathy or close attachments to the young people or they
have less stimulus overload and worries, so their need to alleviate
negative emotions is less. As the study is done in one area, it might
not be possible to generalise findings to other areas and cultures. It
is suggested that individualistic countries are less likely to help
than collectivist countries due to the values and beliefs of that
culture. Research also shows that in big cities people are less likely
to help, which could be attributed to stimulus overload.

Modifications would be to conduct the same experiment in different
areas and at different times of day. The sample should be made bigger
to get more reliable results.

References

Psychology for A2 Level, Mike Cardwell, Liz Clark, Claire Meldrum
(2001)


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