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Analyse the situational determinates of alturism and helping in humans, and what are the implications of research in this area?

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ANALYSE THE SITUATIONAL DETERMINATES OF ALTRUISM & HELPING IN HUMANS, AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF RESEARCH IN THIS AREA? Altruism is defined as 'the unselfish helping of other people. The modern studies of altruism began with a distressing instance of people's failure to help, as was the case in the real event of a murder in New York in 1964 of a women named Kitty Genovese. During the 30 minutes that this particular attack took place, Kitty Genovese cried out for help and begged for someone to intervene. Out of the 38 people who heard or watched from their apartments, not one even called the police. This incident gained national publicity. People wondered how such indifference and apathy of so many people in our society could be explained. Darley & Latane felt that the best way to understand situations like the Kitty Genovese murder is to find out why normally helpful people might not intervene and help in specific situations. ...read more.


Psychologists have learned about the importance of costs and rewards in emergencies from several studies done on the subway systems of New York. The information from these and other studies suggest that the costs and rewards involved will affect whether help is forthcoming. When the costs of helping are low [no danger] and the costs of not helping are high [others will lay blame] people are likely to intervene directly and help. When the costs of helping are high, and the cost of not helping are low, people will generally ignore the victim. Other factors that influence people whether to help or not include, the characteristics of both victim and bystander. For example, appearance, behaviour, gender, race and personality. 'Piliavin' showed through studies that the appearance or attractiveness of victims alters the likelihood of helping. As was seen in the underground subway experiments [1969] Piliavin found that if the victim had an ugly facial birthmark, help was significantly reduced from about 86% to 61%. ...read more.


An important factor seems to be whether people respond to emergency situations with reactions of personal distress or reactions of empathic concern. People with empathic concerns are more likely to help. That is concern for others rather than ones own distress seems to be more powerful motivation to help. To conclude about helping and altruism, it is fair to say that when people do help, they usually feel good about themselves. These feelings motivate us in giving assistance. Still we have seen that often people do not help because they are unsure and afraid. They fear acting inappropriately, of getting involved in something that might be time consuming, dangerous or upsetting. As Maslow [1962] suggested, our need for safety takes precedence over our need for esteem. We would rather be safe than a Good Samaritan. This does not mean that people have little capacity for kindness; it means that this capacity can be deflected by concerns with safety. ...read more.

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