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Why people don’t help what does it depend on

From 28th to 30th of October in the course of “Advanced Social Psychology”, Jane Piliavin, emeritus professor of Wisconsin University (USA), gave a three-day series of lectures about prosocial behavior.

The following issues were discussed: causes of prosocial behavior, altruism and benefit that volunteers gains from it. The lecturer gave a lot of theoretical grounds and findings and also experimental studies. Researchers of these issues are interested in the answer of question: “Why people don’t help what does it depend on?”.

The most classical answer is because of diffusion of responsibility. The series of experiments on diffusion of responsibility lead J. Piliavin with colleagues to the idea that act oа helping behavior depends on the cost and reword that actor can incur. The following experiments in Philadelphia confirmed this assumption.

Helping behavior depends upon the range of factors. Firstly, it depends on personal characteristic of a “victim”, similarities with actor of help (used race, sex and etc). Secondly, it depends also on the ambiguity of the situation, and clear understanding of which kind of actions are needed in current situation and what the costs would be for a helper. Impulsive helping in comparison with non-impulsive doesn’t depend on costs and diffusion of responsibility. The next emphasis in the given field is put on the problem weather helping or altruistic behavior is natural for a human or not. Genetic studies show that we are prone to altruistic and helping behavior. It is in our DNA. The instinct of the species conservation dominates the instinct of self-preservation.  However, studies of development of helping behavior of children demonstrated that nurturing plays the crucial role in this process. The upbringing of prosocial behavior doesn’t end for adults, Jane Piliavin  with colleagues showed it on the example of blood donating and volunteering (Piliavin & Calerro, 1991).  Generally, volunteering brings positive consequences for people, such behavior has beneficial effect on teenagers decreasing deviant behavior and also on elderly people improving their psychological and physiological state.