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The Presence of Others

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The Presence of Others
579
in review
Group Processes
HELPING BEHAVIOR
Theory
Basic Premise
Important Variables
Arousal: cost-reward
People help in order to
reduce the unpleasant
arousal caused by another
person’s distress. They
attempt to minimize the
costs of doing this.
Factors that affect the
costs of helping and
of not helping
Empathy-altruism
People sometimes help for
unselfish reasons if they feel
empathy for a person in need.
They are motivated by a
desire to increase another
person’s well-being.
The amount of
empathy that one
person feels for
another
Evolutionary
People help relatives
because it increases the
chances that the helper’s
genes will survive in future
generations.
The biological relationship between the
helper and the
recipient of help
?
1. If you could save only one person from a burning house, the
theory of
helping would predict that it would be your own child rather than, say, a
grandparent.
2. Are you more likely to receive help in a nearly empty bus or a crowded bus
terminal?
.
3. People who have empathy for others are
likely to be helpful.
Group Processes
䉴 What makes a good leader?
Although Western industrialized cultures tend to emphasize individuals over groups, the
fact remains that most important decisions and efforts by governments and businesses in
those cultures and elsewhere are made by groups, not individuals (Kerr & Tindale, 2004).
Sometimes groups function very well. Perhaps you recall the extraordinary teamwork by
engineers, emergency workers, and volunteers that led to the dramatic rescue of nine men
trapped in a flooded Pennsylvania coal mine in July 2002. At other times, though, groups
have been known to make bad, or even disastrous, decisions. To begin to understand why,
let’s consider some of the social psychological processes that often occur in groups to alter
the behavior of individuals and the quality of their collective efforts.
The Presence of Others
social facilitation A phenomenon in
which the presence of others improves
a person’s performance.
In 1897, in what was probably the first social psychological experiment ever conducted,
Norman Triplett demonstrated that an individual’s behavior is affected by the mere presence of other people. Triplett found that bicycle racers went much faster when another
racer was nearby than when they were simply racing against time. This effect occurred
even when the cyclists were not competing against each other. There was something
about the presence of another person, not just competition, that made riders go faster.
The term social facilitation describes circumstances in which the presence of other
people can improve performance (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). This improvement does not
always occur, however. In fact, having other people present sometimes hurts performance,
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