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Discuss what psychologists have discovered about cross cultural differences in pro-social behaviour (24 marks)

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Introduction

Discuss what psychologists have discovered about cross cultural differences in pro-social behaviour (24 marks) Where you come from can determine how helpful you are. Cross cultural differences in pro-social behaviour can be due to different societies. For example, western cultures, such as the UK or USA, are individualistic and value independence rather than a reliance on others. However, many other non-Western cultures, such as Japan, Israel and India, are collectivist and as such live and walk together, sharing independence. Many attitudes are altered as a result of being from a collectivist or an individualist community. For example, individualistic cultures have high levels of mobility and long distance communication, which lower the levels of community belongingness. However, collectivist cultures have lower levels of mobility, where individuals remain or return to the community they belong to, therefore increasing community belongingness. The role of responsibility also differs between the two cultures. Miller (1994) suggested that individualistic cultures have a much more option orientated perspective, whereas collectivist cultures have a duty based view of interpersonal responsibilities and assume a general obligation to respond to the needs of others. ...read more.

Middle

However, there are other reasons for this, such as tradition. Yang (1994) reported that in China, doing favours for people cultivates social relationships. Favours are return through tradition and principle, and thus social relationships are deepened. However, in contrast, O'shea (1976) claims that in some cultures, foreigners are treated differently from locals as they are seen as more important. There have been many studies into the variations in pro-social behaviour. For example, Eisenberg and Mussen (1989) looked at behaviour in terms of kindness, consideration and cooperation. It was found that North American children were less kind, considerate and cooperative than children who grew up in Mexican villages, therefore showing a relationship between the type of culture and degree of prosocial behaviour shown. Children reared within a collectivist culture tend to show more prosocial behaviour than those reared in an individualistic culture, thus supporting the original thesis. However, results revealed general patterns only and does not take into account individual differences. Broad definitions of culture and prosocial behaviour were used, perhaps making it too simplistic. It could also be argued that the study is dated. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, the methodology of the research can be questioned. Much of the research is observational, which, although decreases the likelihood of demand characteristics, also decreases the amount of control the experimenters have over the study. However, these observational studies also only describe the differences between cultures yet cannot specify what the causes are. As well as this, no specific independent variable will have been manipulated. Rogue findings were found when studies were held in different settings. It was found that laboratory studies show people are orientated towards individualistic goals and were therefore less helpful. However, field studies show higher levels of helping. Nevertheless, this may merely suggest that laboratory studies are affected by demand characteristics as participants know they are being watched and evaluated, and therefore may act the way they presume the experimenter wants them to act. The studies mentioned above may also lack ecological validity and may not be viable to be applied to real life. Therefore, in conclusion, it has been found that cross cultural differences can ultimately affect how helpful an individual is. Generally, it was found that people from individualistic societies are generally less helpful than those who originate from collectivist cultures. ...read more.

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