new link as of February 1, 2018
broken links here
Activities and Exercises
Gift-giving - Suggested activities around a Current Directions article on the topic
"Why we fail to empathize -- and what we can do about it"
is an article (http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/crow/bystander.pdf)
I show on a powerpoint slide. The copy is terrible, I don't
even know how I got the file - and I can't take credit for the
teaching lesson because it's likely I came across it in some
other teaching resource. But the article describes Cornell students
who stopped a fellow student from jumping off a bridge. In the
article, they specifically identify their Intro Psych professor
and learning about the bystander effect as motivation to intervene.
I actually use this on the very last day of class - as a takeaway
message that things they learn about in college (and my class)
can have practical and important implications. Maybe the original
article could be tracked down in the newspaper archives, if
someone had access to Cornell resources . . . .
a general plug for the website Polleverywhere.com.
Maybe you've already mention it - but if not, it's a free polling
resource where you can set up questions ahead of time and then
students just text in their answers (with a code). It's super
easy to use, and you can collect something like 100 responses
for free per poll. The students like it because it's anonymous
and shows the responses in real time.
an example, I use it for in my Intro class for prosocial and
group processes section. First, I ask "If you could do
anything humanly possible with complete assurance that you would
not be detected or held responsible, what would you do?
and I tell them to write down their answer (on scrap paper is
fine). Then, they code their answer into one of these categories:
1. Prosocial (Helping others, committing positive acts), 2.
Antisocial (Criminal acts, hurting others), 3. Non-normative
(violating social norms but not specifically helping or hurting
others e.g., Sexual acts, spying) or 4. neutral (not fitting
into other categories)
And then I use PollEverywhere for them to submit their category.
Inevitably, the highest numbers come in for antisocial and non-normative
acts. Reflects deindividuation, but also that prosocial is not
the first thing that comes to mind for most of them. (I definitely
cannot take credit for this exercise and I know I got it from
another teaching resource - but again, don't know where. Terrible
example of not properly citing sources!)" (from Nora Murphy)
Hunger Games and altruism - This activity uses a clip
from the movie The Hunger Games. [added
associated with the PBS program The Human Spark -
Altruism vs. Egoism
many times have you given blood in your lifetime? ____ times
Novice (0-3) or Expert (3+)
an asterisk (*) next to the most important reason why you donated
service to community
to help humanity
sense of duty
it makes me feel good
to help friend or relative
persuaded by others
as experience with blood donation increases, motivation often
changes from E to A
experienced donors more motivated by altruism, while novice
donors more motivated by egoism (Paulhus, 1977) (H/T George
Schreer) [added 1/29/15]
humans more selfish or prosocial at heart? - another good
Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science activity
from Myers and DeWall [added 1/29/15]
Current Directions in Psychological Science - two
more excellent sets of ideas from subscriber Dave Myers and
Nathan DeWall for using a couple recent Current Directions
articles in class [added
the hero challenge - From Robert Cialdini's Inside Influence
site, this online activity takes you through the factors and
processes that can make you more or less prone to act heroically.
intervention - This is a complete lesson plan in which students,
prior to the lesson, "read 'bystander scenarios' that depict
people in need of help. For each scenario they predicted whether
the onlooker would help the person in need and then gave reasons
why an onlooker would or would not help in the specific situation.
In class students compared their answers on the pre-test and
compiled a set of factors that influence people in bystander
situations. The instructor then introduced a research-based
model of bystander intervention, and led a discussion comparing
students' ideas to the model. At the end of class each student
wrote an individual analysis explaining the similarities and
differences between the model and his or her group's ideas of
bystander behavior. As a homework assignment, students analyzed
another set of bystander scenarios (post-test exercise)." Hat
tip to Jim Matiya for pointing me to this resource. [added
Test - This test contains a number
of interesting scenarios that can serve as classroom examples,
activities or assignments.
Resources (Audio / Video)
The psychology of gift giving - In this podcast, researchers discuss the following studies: 1) Give a piece of you: Gifts that reflect givers promote closeness, 2) Give them what they want: The benefits of explicitness in gift exchange, 3) When doing good is bad in gift giving: Mis-predicting appreciation of socially responsible gifts, and 4) Moments of truth in gift exchanges: A critical analysis of communication indicators used to detect gift failure
interesting take on the Kitty Genovese story - (8:49)
myth of the Kitty Genovese story" - (21:56)
Mike Britt produces podcasts on a variety of psychology topics including
this one following up on the article by Manning et al. [added
episode is a summary of the good samaritan study on helping
from Michael Britt's PsychFiles
Interesting project in which students are randomly assigned to perform a good deed for a stranger or a family member/friend.
Principles of Social Influence to Create Prosocial Change - This
project also won honorable mention for the 2013 Social Psychology
Network Action Teaching Award. "In this action teaching assignment,
students begin by learning about six key principles of social influence
from Robert Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion:
(1) commitment and consistency, (2) social proof, (3) liking, (4)
reciprocation, (5) authority, and (6) scarcity. The class then selects
a social problem of concern and develops a "social change project"
that applies social influence principles to creatively and effectively
address the problem. In one case, for example, students raised over
$2,000 for a United Nations anti-malaria program and generated 200
postcards sent to the White House urging the government to stand by
its pledge to end malaria by 2015. In another case, students invited
a survivor of human trafficking to speak on campus -- an event that
drew over 300 students, faculty, staff, and community members and
helped raise $540 for anti-trafficking organizations. Other social
change projects included raising more than $1,000 to buy prosthetic
limbs for landmine victims, soliciting nearly $2,000 for Pakistan
flood relief, netting over $1,300 for Japanese tsunami relief, and,
closer to home, securing free meals for local senior citizens. These
projects served to show students how social influence techniques can
be used as prosocial influence techniques." [added
the world, $5 at a time, through a grant assignment - This assignment,
by Jennifer Hunt, won the 2012 Social Psychology Network Action Teaching
Award. "When the grant assignment is introduced, students are asked
to select a problem related to women, sexuality, or gender that they
believe is particularly important. Students are also asked to contribute
$5 to create a 'grant fund' that will be used to help address one
of the problems selected by a class member. This donation is framed
as a small, manageable donation that could be accomplished by, for
example, giving up a minor luxury (e.g., a latte coffee). The instructor
donates money to the grant fund as well... After the papers are submitted,
students summarize their proposal in a brief oral presentation to
the class (approximately 4 minutes long). After hearing all of the
presentations, the class votes on which proposal should receive the
pooled grant money. The money is then donated to an organization that
carries out the intervention identified by the student." [added
positive psychology into action - a service learning project [added
for community action - Lori Rosenthal teaches her students "about
research methodology through research projects that make an important
difference to the local community." This project assignment was selected
as the winner of the Social Psychology Network's inaugural Action
Teaching Award. [added 4/6/06]
learning experience - Students in Mark Covey's Social Psychology
course participate in a significant service learning requirement which
includes a service learning journal. [added 6/15/04]
to Design and Conduct a Helping Experiment - in Word
When would or wouldn't someone help - Sue Frantz begins with a case of heroism, and then at the end of this brief blog entry describes an interesting assignment she gives her students.
Hero Fund - Nora Murphy created this interesting assignment in
which students choose a hero from the Carnegie
Hero Fund site and apply social psychology concepts to the case.
We donate more when fatalities are high but not when # of survivors is high - Donations to the Orlando shooting victims and families has been quite large. As recent research has found, people donate more money when there is a high number of deaths, even though we should be donating more when there is a large number of survivors who really need the help.
Empathy - "Woman runs over frog [accidentally] with a lawnmower -- then flies him hundreds of miles for surgery."
Pay it forward - "At one Philly pizza parlor, customers can 'pay it forward' by pre-purchasing $1 slices of pizza for people in need."
5-year-old helps homeless man
Sacrificing one's life
altruistic behavior? - Although this is a very sad case, I am
always looking for good examples that raise the question of whether
humans helping can ever be considered unselfish. [added
bias - Is failure to not helpless reprehensible? Are people more
responsible if they do something (vs. fail to do something)? omission
bias- we tend to blame outcomes on actions rather than inactions.
boy throws a ball (action) that another boy could have gotten but
wasnt paying attention (inaction) and it breaks a car window.
Who is most to blame? Ans: boy who threw ball
are walking up the street in SF when you see a trolley careening out
of control. It is about to hit and kill 5 people. You happen to be
standing next to a switch that could divert the trolley to a second
track where it would kill only one person. Do you flip the switch?
Ans: yes b/c action is indirectly causing one persons death,
but saving 5
are standing on a bridge in SF when you see a trolley below you careening
out of control. It is about to hit and kill 5 people. You are standing
next to a large man who is leaning over the railing to see what is
happening. If you push him off the bridge, he will fall on the track
and be killed, yet his weight will stop the trolley saving the 5 people.
Do you push him? Ans: no because action directly caused persons
death (H/T George Schreer) [added 2/2/15]
bonuses increase employee satisfaction and team performance"
- "In three field studies, we explore the impact of providing
employees and teammates with prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus
spent on others rather than on oneself." The first link is to
the research article; the second link is to an online article about
the research. [added 1/29/15]
loafing/bystander effect - Sam Sommers provides a nice example
in the form of a mass email request for help. [added
of helping - "Men who had been approached by a woman asking for
directions to Valentine Street were willing to help a different woman
retrieve her cell phone from “thieves”, helping her almost
37% of the time. Men asked for directions to Martin Street only helped
20% of the time. The simple mention of “Valentine” unconsciously
motivated men to behave in a more chivalrous manner." [added
effect - about the individual who was pushed on the tracks of
an oncoming subway train in New York City [added 3/5/13]
effect - We are more likely to help identified victims than unidentified
or statistical victims. Here's an example of personalizing victims,
in this case a group that many are uninterested in helping to begin
with. [added 6/20/12]
altruism - Woman dropped three valuable rings into a Salvation
Army bucket apparently because the Army helped her grandfather years
of heroic rescue - During the recent Norwegian massacre, a tourist
helped rescue several teens on the island where the shooting took
place. [added 1/15/12]
intervention - case of bystanders and a medical team helping a
man survive despite going 96 minutes without a pulse [4/9/11]
Samaritan case [added 12/5/10]
apathy - A very disturbing video -- A man who helped rescue a
woman from an attack was seriously injured in the attack. He is now
lying on the sidewalk dying. Watch the response of passersby. (Passersby
- is that a word?) [added
punches shark - video about a man who "punched a shark to save
his dog's life" [3/26/09]
modeling parents - cute little video [added 12/12/07]
of Situation - I see examples all the time of how the level of
ambiguity of need for help in a situation has changed over time in
our society. For example, quite a few years ago if the interior light
of a car was on it usually meant the person forgot to turn it off.
If you saw that person leaving his car with the light still on you
might mention it to him. As the technology advanced so that more and
more cars had interior lights that turned off by themselves, there
was a period of time during which that experience was an ambiguous
one (at least for me). Is this one of those cars? Eventually, it was
no longer ambiguous. Now, if I see someone close up a car and leave
and the interior light is still on, I am quite confident that will
turn off on its own. No help is needed. A similar pattern has occurred
more recently (at least for me!) with car headlights. A few years
ago, even if you knew that interior light was going off on its own,
if the headlights were left on you might mention it to the driver.
Now, some headlights turn off on their own shortly after the driver
leaves. So, now I'm back in the land of ambiguity! Eventually, I imagine,
when I see a driver walk away from his car, and it's rolling backwards
down the hill, I'll think, "Oh, it's one of those new ones that park
effect - Sam Sommers comments on an event that happened in China
in which passersby ignored a young child lying in the road who had
been struck by a truck. Read Sam's commentary at the first link; here
is a video which shows the kid being hit by a truck and then ignored
by some people passing by. [added 1/15/12]
Effect - When we talked about altruism and helpfulness in class
two past experiences crossed my mind. The first experience was on
my sister's birthday, December 22nd. Our family had a dinner planned
for this occasion. We were all to meet at a restaurant at a particular
time. The weather on her birthday was terrible. It was very cold and
icy. Also, there was quite a bit of snow still on the ground from
the previous week. Well, I got stuck in my parking spot at my apartment.
And, no one helped. I saw several people look out their patio windows
at me, but no one helped. My tires were spinning and I know people
must of heard my car. I was absolutely frozen. Well, finally I managed
to dig around my tires and rock myself out of the rut. I was late
for the dinner and had a chill all night. I was very mad that people
saw me and did not help. I just couldn't believe they would watch
a girl struggle whom they had seen in the apartment hallways and laundry
room. However, after talking about the reasons some people help and
some don't in class, I understand a little bit more. I believe the
reason most people didn't help was just the ambiguity of the situation
and lack of empathy. These people were just unsure about whether I
really needed help or the consequence if they did help. And, it was
so cold perhaps it just was not worth the effort. In addition, there
was obviously diffusion of responsibility as there were many observers,
yet not one helped. Perhaps, the observers thought someone would eventually
help me and each passed the buck to the other.
Effect - This PBS site accompanying a Frontline show on the 10th
anniversary of the Rwandan massacre details how many countries stood
by and did little to prevent the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans.
victim bias (Empathy) - Why are we more willing to empathize with
and help a few dozen stranded miners in Chile than the millions affected
by flooding in Pakistan? This article suggests it is, in part, because
of the miners are more clearly identifiable. [added
- "Doctors who express empathy get highest patient ratings." [added
- Relating to my husband's broken leg experience (again!), I offered
some help to a woman last week at school. She was on two crutches
and looked wistfully at the coffee pots before class started. I offered
her my seat so she could put her bad leg on the table and got her
some coffee. After living with this situation for so long, I know
it's impossible to carry a cup of coffee while on crutches. This is
a perfect example relating to my notes on "conditions affecting whether
or not to help -- #6 empathy -- more likely to help similar others
because easier to empathize/easier to relate to them." (I know punctuation
is incorrect, but here I am quoting my incorrectly punctuated class
notes!) This was the only condition which warranted me to help: there
were many other people around; I was anonymous to her; I didn't feel
guilty about anything; and I didn't even think about her response.
- The second experience was when I was on my way home which at this
time was to my parents' house. I saw a jogger on the side of the road
which looked injured as he was lying down and holding his leg. It
was dark out and I wanted to stop, but thought maybe I should get
my dad to come with me. So, I drove quickly home and dashed into the
house to tell my dad. My dad was very eager to help just as I was
because he was a jogger. You see, both of my parents and myself are
joggers (similarity was the key here). Anyhow, my dad went with me
to go see if we could help this injured jogger. Well, he wobbled himself
to a parking lot down the street when my dad and I found him. He was
not a jogger, but a drunk with long hair and earrings and a beautiful
orange jacket. I was so glad my dad was with me! My dad and I brought
the man home and I apologized to my dad for mistaking him for a jogger.
He was very understanding. I believe both my dad and I could relate
to what I perceived as an injured jogger. My dad has limped home himself
several times. We definitely had empathy for this supposed jogger.
I believe our moods were good too. I know my dad and myself well enough
to know that if either one of us were in a bad mood, we would not
inhibits helping - Here's an interesting and disturbing first-person
story of a journalist (and others) observing a helpless victim receiving
a vicious beating and not intervening. This
link takes you to an interesting blog which connects this event
to some research on what is courage. [added 11/17/07]
- Fascinating story of Aki Ra who was forced at age 5 to plant land
mines for the Khmer Rouge. "Ra regretted what he had done during his
time in the Khmer Rouge—and he vowed to spend the rest of his
life making it up to his fellow Cambodians. He remembered where he
had buried many of the land mines, and knew how to quickly and safely
disarm them. So, armed only with a metal detector, a small pocketknife,
and several other small tools, he began locating land mines on the
ground and disarming them by hand....So, for more than 20 years, Ra
has traveled through the Cambodian countryside, disarming thousands
of active mines and leading safety education programs for villages.
Though the mines are filled with TNT and could detonate at any second,
Ra has never been injured in his work." [added 3/6/10]
- I went through the Starbucks' drive thru over the weekend and after
I order the lady asked if I would alike to buy a pot of coffee for
the soldiers in Iraq. I was not ready for the question; I was kind
of frazzled from other things going on (drive thrus wig me out, expecially
when it is the building and a curb and the car has to fit between
the two....YIKES). Anyway, I said yes because how do you say no. Guilt
surely took over me. I would have felt horrible if I said no, but
why... who knows if the soldiers will really get the pot of coffee.
It was certainly somewhat of a selfish act because I did not have
to worry about feeling guilty for the rest of the day. [added
guilty green" - Guilt and Helping - Describes the guilt
many environmentally-conscious people feel when their behavior is
not always consistent with their beliefs [added 12/26/07]
of "help" - Londoners mostly passed up an offer for a free 5 pound
note in this little "experiment" conducted by a price comparison website.
- An example of someone not helping because they feel that the event
was internally caused and controllable was found in the movie "Burning
Bed." In it, Farrah Fawcett is being abused by her husband and goes
to her mother for help. Her mother's response is, "You make a hard
bed; you got to lie in it." Here the mother clearly feels that since
the daughter decided to marry the man -- a controllable, internally
caused decision -- she isn't as deserving of help. It's her fault,
she'll have to deal with it.
Responsibility Norm - Commuters push train to help passenger -
interesting example of mass helping [added 2/2/15]
Responsibility Norm - During flooding in Gurnee, the TV reporters
interviewed many people who were sand-bagging, asking them why they
were helping out. Many responded in line with the social responsibility
norm. They didn't live in the area, had nothing to gain or lose from
stopping the flooding, but were out there helping because it seemed
the right thing to do. I think that many were also motivated by what
the book terms "perceived reasons for the need." People are more likely
to provide help if they attribute the difficulty to external causes
beyond the person's control. Here the rain causing the river to rise
and flood would be an example of an uncontrollable event externally
social norms - Hey, who put those pink flamingos on my lawn? "The
flamingos were placed there by someone other than the home's resident
to get the homeowner to donate money. In order to have the flamingos
removed, the recipient needed to make a donation. The recipient is
also encouraged to "flock" a friend's lawn in order to get them to
contribute as well." [added
Get resources to the homeless? There's an app for that
banks - Looking to donate some food or volunteer hours at
a food bank? You can locate a food bank near you at this Feeding
America site. Other resources and opportunities available as
well. [added 4/18/09]
Give a "good
card" - Here's another good idea for a last minute gift.
Pick an amount, purchase the good card in that amount, give
it to someone, and that person can then donate that amount to
the charity of his or her choice. It is tax deductible for the
your vocabulary and donate rice! - Another site at which
you can make donations (of rice, in this case) while playing
a game. Fun learning tool for your students. Okay, you can play,
- Here's another one -- a site where you can "change the life
of a low-income family by clicking 'Learn More or Invest Points'
and authorizing Modest Needs to make the grant of your choice.
If you do, we'll fund that application instantly." [added
helping website - Idealist.org is another of the type of
sites where visitors can combine with others to solve different
problems around the world. [10/13/07]
Microlending opportunities through
web site - I pointed you to another web site below (Donors
Choose) in which individuals could review requests from teachers
and choose to donate to one or more of those classrooms. This
web site allows potential donors to lend money to "a specific
entrepreneur in the developing world, empowering them to lift
themselves out of poverty." [added 8/05/07]
Choose - An innovative project in which classroom teachers,
primarily in high-need schools, submit proposals for projects
that need funding. Potential donors can visit the website to
choose to which project(s) to help fund. Also watch the video
from the story. [added 7/16/07]
evaluator - Charity Navigator is a
site that collects and rates more than 5000 charities. Charities
can be searched alphabetically, by category, by region and by
ratings. Site also includes a collection of related articles.
"Preventing police misconduct" - Here is a good article in the APA Monitor describing the application of social psychological research to the New Orleans police force. Here is an interview of someone who is similarly applying social psych research to help the "Pittsburgh police confront their racial biases." It is a testament to these two men that they can manage their emotions well enough to work on such challenging problems. (I'm trying to get in on the above twitter thread.)
"High school students start club to make sure no one sits alone at lunch" - "A club called We Dine Together at Boca Raton Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, consists of students who roam their school's courtyard during lunch looking for students who are eating alone. They then introduce themselves and get to know the students."
What happens when a city gives its poor residents money without strings? - See what happened when Utrecht, Netherlands tried this. Others have tried as well.
Explore website - Explore is a website that "champions the
selfless acts of others." The site includes video examples,
lesson plans, and other resources. [added 8/22/11]
foreign aid projects - interesting story about individuals
developing their own ideas for helping others abroad [added
for Compassion - "The Charter for Compassion is a cooperative
effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but compassionate
action to the center of our lives." The site includes many acts
of compassion shared by citizens from around the world.
acts of kindness - The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
is promoting.... yes, random acts of kindness. At this site
you can see lots of grassroots efforts to do so, as well as
other resources, particularly for the K-12 school or classroom.
save a life: Stories of Holocaust rescue" [added
- Need examples of "heroism"? The stated purpose of this site
"is to use the power of the Internet and existing media to
bring diverse, international voices to the world to explore
the idea that people are good, that individuals and individual
action matter, and that regularly showing examples of people
being good to each other will inspire similar actions in others."
A few examples are provided at the site. More can be obtained
by subscribing to HeroicStories sent to you for free via e-mail.
of Heroism - at this Carnegie Hero
Fund Commission site find thousands of biographies of "extraordinary"
heroes and links to a few other similar sites
Assignment Idea from
Nora Murphy using the Carnegie Hero website [added
More on the murder of Kitty Genovese
Winston Moseley died recently - Who was he? Kitty Genovese's killer.
Bystander effect about more than diffusion of responsibility - Research finds that that bystanders were also affected by what they thought other bystanders were thinking.
'myth' of Kitty Genovese" - This brief blog entry points
you to a review of some of the claims in the case of Kitty Genovese,
including the 38 witnesses, and to social psychologist Bibb
Latané's response to it. [added 1/29/15]
Kitty Genovese, 50 years later - [added 1/29/15]
A pair of eyes watching you does not increase your generosity - according to a couple new meta-analyses
Whom are we most likely to help? - This article discusses some of the research about whom is more and less likely to receive our assistance.
"Employee volunteerism? Only if you think your boss is ethical"
We donate more when fatalities are high but not when # of survivors is high - Donations to the Orlando shooting victims and families has been quite large. As recent research has found, people donate more money when there is a high number of deaths, even though we should be donating more when there is a large number of survivors who really need the help.
We're less likely to help when near a luxury store - ahh, priming
More adversity, more compassion - Those who have experienced more adversity exhibit more compassion.
Hacker philanthropy - "Traditional philanthropy, he declared, is 'a strange and alien world made up of largely antiquated institutions.' These old-timers have long favored 'safe' gifts to well-established institutions, 'resulting in a never-ending competition to name buildings at major universities, medical centers, performing arts centers and other such public places.' The new breed, by contrast, has a hacker mindset: It is anti-establishment, believes in 'radical transparency,' is given to problem solving, and has an ability to identify weaknesses in long-established systems and to disrupt them."
Who gives to charity? -aA good overview of some research
Dogs snubbed non-helpers - Some awesome research -- "The researchers tested three groups of 18 dogs by putting them in rooms with their owners as well as two strangers. The owners were tasked with opening a box, and solicited help from the two other people in the room (sometimes they would help and sometimes they would refuse). After watching their owners either be rebuffed or aided, the dogs were offered food by the strangers -- and were much more likely to ignore the stranger who had been unkind to their owner."
Do you like being asked to donate at the checkout register? - Most Americans do(!) finds this research.
Volunteering improves mental and physical health
and morality - Research finds that feeling inauthentic leads
to feeling less moral and less clean, which leads to more helping
behavior. [added 2/2/15]
and altruism - "Heres what they found, and report
in an article to appear in the journal Psychological Science:
There were only 955 altruistic kidney donations during the
decade they studied, and these varied widely by state. Delaware
and Mississippi recorded zero donations during this period,
and Utah had the highest rate of donation, by far. Well-being
also varied fairly widely state-by-state, from a low in West
Virginia to a high in Hawaii. When the scientists crunched these
data together, they found a clear connection between state well-being
and state levels of altruistic donation. This pattern held up
when they collapsed the state data into nine broad geographical
regions, and it also held true for a single year and for a decade.
Whats more, the data clearly support the engine model:
That is, increases in objective well-beinglike incomelead
to a greater subjective sense of well-being, which in turn promotes
acts of kindness to strangers." [added 2/2/15]
mug shot goes viral - "Jeremy Meeks is a convicted
felon, an alleged gang member and is currently being held in
jail on more felony weapons charges. Bail has been set at $1,000,000.
Thats not a typical biography for an internet celebrity.
Yet, Meeks has a Facebook page with over 120,000 fans. His mother
started a fundraising page thats attracted 145 donations
and over $2500 in one day. And the hashtag #FreeJeremyMeeks
is trending on Twitter. The positive feelings are all related
to his handsome mug shot, which was posted by the
Stockton Police Department on Facebook this week, and quickly
became a sensation. It is a stunning example of how the American
criminal justice system in which defendants have the
right to be judged by a jury of their peers is often
influenced by superficial attributes." [added
hunger lead to hoarding or sharing? - Blog entry looks at
some interesting research on the question. [added
Macbeth effect and OCD - After individuals with OCD and
those without were induced to report unethical behavior, half
washed their hands and half did not. Then they were given the
opportunity to help. Would washing their hands cleanse them
of the guilt of the unethical behavior and, thus, reduce their
willingness to help? Would it affect those with OCD differently?
Read and discover the results of this fascinating study. [added
do we donate to disaster victims? - more often when the
disaster is natural rather than human-made [added
disaster increase altruism in the victims? - interesting
study in China after a devastating earthquake left almost 70,000
dead [added 8/13/13]
increases donations - "French researchers say that adding
the text 'donating=loving' to a charitable collection box almost
doubled the amount of money they raised." What if you put "donating=giving
money" on the box? Or, "donating=enabling dependency of no-good,
lazy people"? Or, "help adopt a penguin!" So many possible follow-up
studies your students could conduct. Or, you could have them
justify a variation/hypothesis based on previous research. [added
the best way to beg for money? - Here's an interesting field
study in which a student dressed as a panhandler (how do they
dress?) tested the following: "When people walked by, Daniel
would either be sitting down (the passive approach) or standing
up (the active approach) and he would either look them in the
eyes or not. So there were times when he was 1) sitting down
and looking people in the eyes, 2) sitting down and not looking
people in the eyes, 3) standing up and looking people in the
eyes, or 4) standing up and not looking people in the eyes."
Read to find out what he found, I beg of you. [added
people are sweet! - Oh good, another excuse to eat chocolate!
Thank you, Brian Meier. "Brian Meier and his team had dozens
of students rate the agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism
of 100 people, based on pictures of their faces and a strap-line
identifying each person's preference for a particular food,
such as 'I like grapefruit.' People who said they liked a sweet
food were judged by the students as more agreeable, suggesting
that we implicitly recognise that a taste for sweet things is
grounded in a sweet personality. Are people right to make this
implicit assumption? Further studies suggested so. Students
who rated their own personality as more agreeable also tended
to have a stronger preference (than their less agreeable peers)
for sweet foods and drinks. Among a different set of students,
a stronger preference for sweet foods correlated positively
with their willingness to volunteer their time, unpaid, for
a separate unrelated study - considered by the researchers as
a sign of prosocial behaviour." [added
willing to help victims of natural than man-made disasters
- [added 5/31/11]
and children first? Not if I'm in a hurry - "Records from
two nearly 100-year-old shipwrecks, the Titanic and the Lusitania,
have given researchers new insight into human selfishness —
and altruism. On one boat, it seems, the men thought only of
themselves; on the other, they were more likely to help women
and children. This occurred for one key reason, researchers
said: time. The Lusitania sank in about 18 minutes, while the
Titanic took nearly three hours. Women and children fared much
better on the Titanic." [added
and Benefits of Helping
Cruel to be kind - Recent research suggests that making someone feel negative emotions can be beneficial to them in the long run. Oh, and here is some classic rock!
Helping is tiring - It can drain your cognitive and emotional resources. In fact, I had a couple more resources to point you to, but i just.... here David Myers describes some examples of super grit, to see if it might energize you instead. That's a good empirical question: Does hearing about someone else's super grit energize or deflate us? How did you feel after reading the super grit article? Your students?
are more willing to hurt themselves than others for profit"
- A clever study: "You wait in a cubicle, electrodes strapped
to your body. In a room nearby, a stranger is confronted with
a series of decisions. They can choose a smaller cash reward
and avoid an electric shock, or a larger sum that comes together
with an unpleasant zap. The twist is that in half of the trials,
the stranger knows the associated shock punishment is for them,
but in the others they know its you who will suffer."
and benefits of helping - The authors "explore whether organizations
that seek to increase charitable giving by advertising the benefits
of giving are making claims supported by empirical research
and, most importantly, whether such claims actually increase
donations." [added 1/19/10]
“Five reasons people give their money away” - and one reason they don’t
"Endorsing for others what we oppose for ourselves" - "People who receive help prefer agentic aid-- they want to choose...yet people who give help prefer it to be paternalistic."
"Two-year-olds seem to find helping others as rewarding as helping themselves"
hearts to get more tips" - "We all know that Valentines
Day is a heart-filled holiday, but is it possible that seeing
a heart changes how much you tip at a restaurant? In a study
of over 350 restaurant patrons, waitresses delivered the
bill under one of three candy-filled dishes: square, round,
or heart-shaped. Results revealed that more people tipped (the
study was in France, where tipping isnt necessarily automatic)
when provided with a heart-shaped dish and tipped a higher amount
compared to the other two shapes." [added
altruism; What prompts it? - Would you donate a kidney to
a stranger? Perhaps if you feel better off, according to this
research (or, if you live in Utah) [added 1/29/15]
gossip promote cooperation? - Research suggests that the
threat of ostracism behind some gossip discourages self-interest
and encourages cooperation. [added
new nuanced view of oxytocin's effects on social behavior
- a brief summary of a talk which reviews what we currently
know about oxytocin and social behavior [added
is a social act" - [added 8/13/13]
altruism in infants? - "We are usually eager to assist people
who have helped us in the past. These reciprocal relationships
are an important part of adult interactions and foster cooperation
in society. New findings, reported in Psychological Science,
a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest
that this reciprocal behavior may have early beginnings and
can be demonstrated in children as young as 21-months-old."
Am I allowed to call 21-month-olds infants? My rule of thumb:
If a baby can point to another baby and call it a baby, it is
no longer a baby. [added
and its social importance" - Fascinating research that relates
one's humanity-esteem ("Overall, how favourable are you toward
human beings in general?") and your likelihood to differentiate
between groups, feel others are trustworthy, and more. Here's
a couple scales that we are going to see a lot more of in the
moral instinct" - Interesting essay from Steven Pinker asking
the question who "is the most admirable -- Mother Teresa, Bill
Gates, or Norman Borlaug?" [added
anxiety and volunteering - This report from the Penn School
of Social of Social Policy and Practice discusses how social
anxiety may inhibit those who would like to volunteer from stepping
forward to do so. [added 11/29/07]
volunteer? - a research report entitled "Why volunteer?
Evidence on the role of altruism, reputation, and incentives"
prosocial values - "Like mother like son? Experimental evidence
on the transmission of values from parents to children" finds
"no significant correlation between the degree of cooperation
of a child and that of his or her parents." [added
evolved from competition? - an article describing research
suggesting that altruism may have arisen from its superiority
over selfishness when competing for resources with other groups
Compassion - APS has a number of good articles linking compassion with helping.
our ideas about happiness affect our empathy? - good blog
entry reviewing some research on the topic [added
narcissists be moved to show empathy?" - [added
neuroscience behind empathy - interesting study [added
already know better than you how to help you - When you
pointed to a working cup next to a broken cup and asked the
three-year-old to hand it to you, the child would 97% of the
time. But when you pointed to the broken cup, the child would
hand you the working cup 70% of the time. Silly adults. [added
study of smiling - very interesting story in the APS Observer
on the many facets of smiling research and what it all means
and violence have similar circuits in the brain - Gives
new meaning to a love/hate relationship. [added
are desensitized to your pain! - I knew it. And when we
find research suggesting that they enjoy it, all my fears will
be confirmed! Just kidding, doc. [added
in empathy or us-vs-them mentality - interesting essay on
how broadly we extend our empathy to "others" - here's
another on the same topic [added 3/7/10]
people remember your smell" - "Forty-four female university
students were twice tasked with smelling three t-shirts and
picking out the one that belonged to their room-mate. The t-shirts
had been carefully prepared - worn overnight for an average
of eight hours, after the owner had used scent-free toiletries
for the previous two days. Based on their performance, the students
were arranged in three groups: 21 of them failed both times
to pick out the correct t-shirt; 10 of them picked the correct
t-shirt once; and 13 of them picked the correct t-shirt both
times. The key finding was that the students who both times
identified their room-mate's t-shirt by its smell also tended
to excel at a test of identifying facial emotional expressions,
and at a test of empathy in which they had to say how someone
would feel in a range of different situations." What if you
can smell your roommate's t-shirt from 20 yards away? [added
another's physical versus social pain - "Witnessing another
person's physical pain registers more quickly in the brain than
compassion for social or psychological pain, but the latter
leaves a much longer-lasting impression." [added
and Oxytocin - more research "connecting oxytocin to trust
and generosity" [added 12/16/07]
of mind or curse of knowledge? - This blog provides a good
account of some really interesting research. How could adults
think THAT? Well, I do every time I watch TV and wonder why
one character can't figure out what's coming next since I know.
and empathy in America - interesting analysis of survey
results from the National Opinion Research Center at the University
of Chicago [added 7/6/06]
Apes, and Us" - (2000) by Marc Hauser,
in Discover magazine - "Can animals learn to share, cooperate,
punish, and show empathy?
It's better to give AND receive - Research finds "that gift recipients are happier with a present when the giver got themselves the same present."
"Pressuring employees to be do-gooders can backfire badly"
Are popular classmates cooperative? - More popular female classmates showed more skillful leadership working with their peers, while more popular boys showed less skillful leadership. Other interesting findings are also described.
So what happened to the Ice Bucket Challenge money raised? - Here's an accounting of the $115 million raised, one year later.
"The myth of the ethical shopper" - We would like to believe that conscientious shopping can change the world, but this excellent essay shows how complicated and difficult that is. The first link is to a video of an interesting street test suggesting that you can improve the lives of the poor by how you shop. This essay suggests it's not so easy.
between prosocial media and prosocial behavior ... across cultures
- [added 2/2/15]
are what you avatar - Are you more willing to help after playing
a good versus evil character in a video game? "What they
found was that those who had the Superman avatar gave twice as
much chocolate as hot chili. The Voldemort avatars did the opposite,
giving future players much more chili than chocolate. Those who
had neutral avatars (the circle) used less of both chocolate and
chili." [added 2/2/15]
media and video games positively influence behavior across cultures
- [added 1/29/15]
compassionate can also provide health benefits - good article
from APS Observer [added 8/13/13]
not as selfish as we thought" -My chimp often lets me take
the last slice of pizza.
people are twice as likely to assist as you think" - A blog
entry describing some research on how we underestimate how likely
we are to receive help when we ask for it. [added
of a small circle of friends" - Lyrics from the song "Outside
of a small circle of friends" by Phil Ochs describing a reluctance
to help, including a verse based on the Kitty Genovese case [10/13/07]
share altruistic capacity with people" - [10/13/07]
dog fills out hospital paperwork" - very amusing piece from
the satirical online newspaper The Onion [added
in the United States, 2010" - a report from the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics [added 1/15/06]
among the baboons - interesting article of possible cultural
transmission of female baboons' attempt to induce more cooperation
from male baboons [added 6/9/04]
the case of Kitty Genovese - You have probably heard of Kitty
Genovese. How about Kew Gardens? That is the name of the community
in New York where the tragic murder of Kitty Genovese took place
in 1964. A long-time resident provides a pictorial history of
Kew Gardens. Of particular interest is his review of the case
of Kitty Genovese. He includes the original New York Times article
reporting about the murder. He then attempts to carefully separate
fact from fiction presented in the article and elsewhere about
the case. [added 4/05/04]
Bystander Effect? The following text and sites come from The
US and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994
to Genocide" -- from The Atlantic
The National Security Archive last month (August, 2001) posted sixteen
declassified documents relating to the US response to 1994's genocide
in Rwanda. The documents reveal that the United States planned from
the beginning not to get involved until peace was restored, that
the US tried to persuade the UN to withdraw all forces in Rwanda
in April of 1994, and that US officials knew who was responsible
for the killings and even spoke with leaders to try to stop further
violence. These cables, memorandums, and papers are chilling in
the light of the nearly one million dead. The latest issue of The
Atlantic features an article by Samantha Power which uses the declassified
documents along with interviews with those involved to deliver a
"narrative of self-serving caution and flaccid will."
Evolution of Reciprocal Sharing" - article
published in Ethology Sociobiology, 5: 5-14, 1984. Jim Moore.
Test - This testl contains a number of
interesting scenarios that can serve as classroom examples, activities
or assignments - Update: This test/survey site has now gone
commercial - so, you will have to pay to view take/view the egoism/altruism
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2000-2016. This site was created and is maintained by Jon
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