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Much research on helping behaviour can be criticised as being ethnocentric, conducted in the USA alone.

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Introduction

Much research on helping behaviour can be criticised as being ethnocentric, conducted in the USA alone. Thus, the studies are rather limited in terms of the lack of variety in the people studied. Latane and Darley were the first to systematically investigate the circumstances under which bystander's are/are not likely to intervene to help others, and promote pro-social behaviour. However, we must be cautious not to generalise the findings to other cultures. We cannot assume that the same circumstances apply equally to any human population. The tendency to make this assumption is something we need to be very aware of when drawing broad conclusions regarding pro-social behaviour from a limited sample. This implication highlights the need for cross-cultural research into pro-social behaviour. Each cultural group has social norms. Cultures also share values, which specify what kinds of pro-social behaviour are considered desirable. We all need to go through the processes of socialisation to acquire the norms and values relevant to our culture. If we behave differently from the prescribed cultural norms, there are likely to be negative consequences, such as disapproval of others. ...read more.

Middle

This contrasts with Fiske's findings, since it has now been shown that people will offer help to those who live outside the culture. A further study has investigated the effect of specific cultural beliefs. L'Armand and Pepitone (1975) compared altruistic behaviour in the US and India. The attitudes to and beliefs about helping in the two cultures were also explored. The findings were found to be in contrast to what would be predicted from the individualistic versus collectivist distinction. Americans were in general more altruistic than Indians, however, only in low-cost situations. In addition, there was a cultural belief among Indians that all types of rewards are fixed and limited; so one person's gain is another's loss. Therefore, this study demonstrates the influence of cultural beliefs and attitudes and how they can affect helping behaviour. There has also been a certain amount of research focussing on the effect sub-cultural differences has in helping behaviour within a particular culture and, in particular, differences between classes. Muir and Weinstein (1962) studied middle-class and lower-class women in the USA, questioning them regarding helping behaviour and the principles that they used in deciding whether or not to help. ...read more.

Conclusion

As before, the kibbutz dwellers were most likely to seek help, and US immigrants and Israel urban dwellers less likely to do so. The USSR immigrants, from a predominantly collectivistic culture, were least likely to seek help. This can be explained adequately, since USSR citizens tend only to seek help from those to whom they felt close and intimate, avoiding interactions outside this small circle of family and friends. In conclusion, conflicting results from laboratory and field studies of helping behaviour tends to question the significance of culture differences on pro-social behaviour. Laboratory studies, particularly those involving American participants, tend to emphasise that people will avoid the need to request help as far as possible. In contrast, field studies, particularly those involving participants from Asian cultures, emphasise that people will sacrifice time and effort in order to attend to those that deserve help (Wills, 1992). However, these conflicting results may not simply be the product of cultural differences alone. Moreover, lab-based studies tend to lack the social context of seeking help. Faced with a limited time period with anonymous fellow participants, there would seem little point in attempting to develop a social relationship in such an artificial context. In the real world, however, people actively seek out the help of others to extend their social relationships (Moghaddam 1998) ...read more.

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