Altruism: A Data-Driven Learning Guide
Goal & Concept
The goal of this exercise is to explore some of the factors that may influence altruistic behavior. Crosstabulation will be used.
Prosocial behavior is a term used by social psychologists to refer to a broad category of actions that are considered to be beneficial to others and to have positive social consequences. One type of prosocial behavior is altruism--helping that is intended to provide aid to someone else with no expectations of getting something in return.
Empathy--an other-oriented feeling of compassion, tenderness, sympathy, pleasure or pain--has been linked to altruism, and studies show that empathic concern for a person in need tends to promote altruistic helping.
But helping and altruism may also be influenced by cultural norms, such as the social responsibility norm, which states that individuals should help people who are dependent on them, or the reciprocity norm, according to which people will help, not hurt, those who have helped them.
Examples of possible research questions about altruism include:
- What motivates one person to help another?
- How do costs and rewards, or empathy, influence helping and altruism?
- What impact do cultural norms and roles have on helping behavior?
- Do characteristics of the person needing help influence helping behavior, and if so, how?
CITATION: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Altruism: A Data-Driven Learning Guide. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-04-16. Doi:10.3886/altruism
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