Cooperation and Helping Behavior. Theories and Research

Helping behavior
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Though previous research has suggested that prosocial behavior emerges between the first and second birthday and increases in frequency and complexity as the child ages e. Looking to the existing literature reviewed above, children should be able to respond to instrumental need prior to unmet material desire and emotional distress, both of which will show more variability and context dependence due to the later emerging social cognitive supports.

Sharing appears to emerge later in the second year increasing in frequency and spontaneity between 18 and 24 months Brownell et al. We see the same pattern of production when the three negative states are presented within-subject, suggesting this is not a methodological artifact but instead a characteristic of early other-oriented behaviors Dunfield et al. Further, tasks that use subsets of prosocial behavior converge, showing that relative to helping, comforting emerges later Radke-Yarrow et al. Together, the existing literature supports the claim that early prosocial behaviors show unique patterns of emergence as a function of the specific negative state they address.

A closely related prediction is that the production of various forms of other-oriented behavior should not necessarily correlate.

The Basics of Prosocial Behavior

Dunfield and Kuhlmeier gave 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds the opportunity to respond to four instances of instrumental need, unmet material desire, and emotional distress. Because the children were given the opportunity to respond to multiple instances of multiple varieties of each of the three negative states, it was possible to examine correlations both within and across tasks. Consistent with the proposed utility of the present categorization, participants reliably responded to a particular negative state, while responses across negative states remained uncorrelated.

Thompson and Newton , find consistent behavioral results and similarly suggest that differences in the production of varieties of prosocial behavior may relate to the unique underlying social-cognitive constraints. Finally, in support of these interpretations, it appears that helping and comforting are associated with distinct, dissociable neural correlates sharing was not examined; Paulus et al.

Taken together, there is mounting support for the proposal that helping, sharing, and comforting reflect unique varieties of prosocial behaviors with distinct ages of onset Dunfield et al. Each of these findings are consistent with the utility in dividing the general domain of prosocial behavior into three more specific varieties based on the unique mental state they respond to. The third prediction is that individual differences will not necessarily influence each variety of prosocial behavior equally. A number of individual difference factors have been found to affect the production of prosocial behavior as a whole for comprehensive reviews see Eisenberg et al.

However, because these studies were not intended to examine whether different prosocial behavior are differentially affected by individual difference factors, it is not possible to determine whether these factors have a similar influence on all proposed varieties of prosocial behaviors or instead exert their influences selectively. If the proposed categorization based on negative state attribution is going to be useful in organizing the examination of prosocial behavior, then it should help predict and explain differences in the production of prosocial behavior across individuals.

Specifically, an individual difference factor should only affect the production of a particular prosocial behavior if it influences the ability to represent, or the motivation to resolve, a particular negative state. In this section I will demonstrate how variations in social cognition, emotion processing, socialization, and culture assert different influences on the three proposed varieties of prosocial behavior. Children with ASD develop social cognitive abilities along an atypical trajectory e.

The few studies that do exist examining prosocial behaviors in children with autism found that while children with ASD engage in simple helping and sharing Liebal et al. Although these children were much older the mean age was 46 months than Dunfield et al. However, it is not currently possible to determine if these effects are a function of difficulty representing the displayed negative state, or limited motivation to interact, future research will be required to determine at which stage in the prosocial process children with autism are experiencing difficulty.

A second individual difference factor that has been observed to differentially affect the ability to represent the various negatives states is attachment security. Securely attached individuals generally see other people as reliable sources of support, whereas insecurely attached individuals see others as unreliable sources of potential pain e. And although attachment security has been generally associated with the production of empathic behaviors across the lifespan Mikulincer et al.

Specifically, though infants appear to have universal expectations regarding instrumental interventions e. When university undergraduates are given the opportunity to describe social interactions where the specific negative state is ambiguous, securely attached individuals identify both instrumental need and social-emotional distress with equal ease, while insecurely attached individuals preferentially avoid discussing social-emotional distress Dunfield, ; Johnson et al. Attachment security appears to represent a second domain of individual difference that exerts a differential effect on the ability to represent the various negative states.

Future research will need to examine whether and how these different representations affect the production of the three varieties of prosocial behavior. While the focus of this paper has largely been the importance of considering underlying, species universal, social cognitive mechanisms that differentiate varieties of prosocial behaviors, socialization plays an integral role in the emergence and production of prosocial behavior e.

Particularly relevant to the current proposal is the idea that there are at least three pathways through which socialization can influence the production of prosocial behavior e. Specifically, socialization could affect the production of prosocial behavior by increasing motivation e. While it is clear that socialization is fundamentally important to supporting the production of prosocial behavior, it is not clear that all types of socialization are equally effective in encouraging all varieties of prosocial behavior.

Defining the situation: The role of pluralistic ignorance

For example, a recent study Pettygrove et al. Additionally, parental socialization techniques were coded while the parent and child interacted in a different but related task.

The researchers replicated previous findings regarding the unique, uncorrelated production of prosocial behavior in early development. However, socialization influences do not always show distinct relations with varieties of prosocial behaviors. For example, parents who frequently elicited emotion talk from their children tended to have children who helped and shared more quickly and frequently than children who engaged in less emotion discussion Brownell et al.

Looking to the three components that are proposed to support effective prosocial behavior, it is possible that factors that influence the ability to represent the underlying negative state and solution may require different socializing influences e. Specifically, though socialization undoubtedly plays an important role in supporting when and how children act on behalf of others, considering the unique constraints that underlie the varieties of prosocial behavior may lead to more nuanced understanding of the variety of ways that socialization exerts its influence.

This categorization of prosocial behavior, based on the unique and dissociable social-cognitive constraints that underlie other-oriented acts, could aid in better understanding when, how, and why, varieties of prosocial are differentially influenced by socialization. Although it is well established that humans universally engage in prosocial behaviors e.

Situational Influences on Helping Behavior

Specifically, cultures seem to vary in the types of prosocial behaviors they value, beliefs about who is deserving of prosocial behavior, and the manner in which social-cognitive abilities support the production of prosocial behavior e. There is relatively little systematic cross-cultural research examining the production of multiple varieties of prosocial behavior, particularly in early childhood, but the studies that do exist suggest that some components of prosocial development are shared across cultures, while others vary. For example, though mothers from Peru, India, and China all report that their infants begin helping between 14 and 17 months, they identified different types of helping behavior Callaghan et al.

Specifically, Peruvian and Indian children tended to only help with household tasks, while Canadian children also engaged in self-helping behaviors such as dressing and putting away toys. Yet, despite these differential self-reports, by 18 months children from all three cultures identified instrumental need and preferentially helped when need was present. When sharing behavior is examined across a number of diverse cultural contexts i. Moreover, the results hinted at a universal association between the development of social cognition and increasingly generous behavior.

However, despite considerable similarity, there are important differences in the level of self-interest the youngest children started with and magnitude of the developmental differences across the various cultures tested. Yet, despite responding similarly to distress cues, the two cultures differed in the socialization goals they emphasized and the role of social cognitive development in the production of pseudo-comforting behavior.

Specifically, mothers from Delhi tended to emphasize more relational socialization goals than mothers from Berlin whereas, mirror self-recognition predicted distress and comforting behavior in Berlin but not Delhi. Together these results suggest that there may be a number of distinct developmental routes that lead to similar behavioral outcomes. Though the tendency to produce prosocial behaviors is a human universal, there is considerable cultural variability in the form and development of other-oriented acts. Culture may exert its influence on the development of prosocial behavior by selectively emphasizing particular values and then affording differential socialization opportunities e.

Moreover, depending on the cultural context of development, it is possible that the same developmental outcome i. To that end, research that specifically examines varieties of prosocial behavior and their associated social-cognitive supports will be in a better position to understand the nuanced development of these fundamental social behaviors. Taken together, the reviewed lines of research suggest that individual difference factors do not necessarily exert the same influence on all varieties of prosocial behavior.

Specifically, it is important to consider the fit between the social-cognitive or motivational effects of a particular individual difference variable and the demands of a particular variety of prosocial behavior when predicting how the two will interact. While exciting and suggestive, this line of inquiry is still in its infancy. An important direction for future research will involve a more systematic examination of how various individual differences affect the representations and motivations underlying the three varieties of negative states and the extent to which these differences affect the types and frequencies of prosocial behaviors that children produce.

The goal of this paper was to address some of the inconsistencies in our understanding of the early emergence and development of prosocial behavior by considering the social-cognitive constraints that underlie the ability to act on behalf of others. This social-cognitive categorization of prosocial behavior proposes that within the general domain of prosocial behavior, other-oriented actions can be categorized into three distinct types namely: helping, sharing, and comforting. Each of these varieties of prosocial behavior relies on the recognition of, and response to, a distinct negative state namely: instrumental need, unmet material desire, and emotional distress, respectively.

By distinguishing between these three negative states we are in a better position to identify the distinct social cognitive abilities that support each type of prosocial behavior. Importantly, by doing so we can begin to better understand the unique ages of onset, uncorrelated patterns of production, and distinct patterns of individual differences that are currently challenging our understanding of the earliest instances of these fundamental human behaviors.

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Thank you to Valerie Kuhlmeier, Krista Byers-Heinlein, and both reviewers for constructive feedback and insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v.

Front Psychol. Published online Sep 2. Kristen A. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article was submitted to Developmental Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Received Mar 9; Accepted Aug The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

See commentary " Commentary: A construct divided: prosocial behavior as helping, sharing, and comforting subtypes " in volume 7, This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The development and maintenance of prosocial, other-oriented behaviors has been of considerable recent interest.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, social-cognitive development, emotional development. Representing the solution In addition to being able to represent the goal structure underlying and organizing behavior, effective helping requires the ability to recognize effective interventions that support goal completion. Representing the solution Effectively alleviating material desire requires the ability to recognize an unequal distribution of resources, the motivation to see equality restored, and the ability to overcome an egocentric desire to monopolize resources.

Open in a separate window. Attachment security A second individual difference factor that has been observed to differentially affect the ability to represent the various negatives states is attachment security. Socialization While the focus of this paper has largely been the importance of considering underlying, species universal, social cognitive mechanisms that differentiate varieties of prosocial behaviors, socialization plays an integral role in the emergence and production of prosocial behavior e.

Culture Although it is well established that humans universally engage in prosocial behaviors e. SUMMARY The goal of this paper was to address some of the inconsistencies in our understanding of the early emergence and development of prosocial behavior by considering the social-cognitive constraints that underlie the ability to act on behalf of others.

Conflict of Interest Statement The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Acknowledgments Thank you to Valerie Kuhlmeier, Krista Byers-Heinlein, and both reviewers for constructive feedback and insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

The pursuit of status in social groups. A mutualistic approach to morality: the evolution of fairness by partner choice. Brain Sci. Cognition — Just Babies.

Attachment and Loss Vol. Middlesex: Pelican Books Original work published ;. Justice- and fairness-related behaviors in nonhuman primates.

Changes in cooperation and self-other differentiation during the second year of life. Child Dev. Mine or yours? Development of sharing in toddlers in relation to ownership understanding. Infancy 18 91— Becoming a social partner with peers: cooperation and social understanding in one- and two-year-olds. Infancy 14 — Eighteen-month-old infants show false belief understanding in an active helping paradigm. Early social cognition in three cultural contexts. Fourteen- through month-old infants differentially imitate intentional and accidental actions.

Infant Behav. An experimental investigation of social cognitive abilities in infants with autism: clinical implications. Infant Ment. Health J. Cry babies and pollyannas: infants can detect unjustified emotional reactions. Infancy 18 E81—E96 Cognition 72 — Early conceptions of positive justice as related to the development of logical operations. The Selfish Gene. Early social impairments in autism: social orienting, joint attention, and attention to distress. From emotion resonance to empathic understanding: a social developmental neuroscience account.

Child Study J. Equity, equality, and need: what determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice? Perusall's novel data analytics automatically grade these annotations to ensure that students complete the reading, and as an instructor, you get a classroom of fully prepared students every time.

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On this basis, we review recent experimental studies showing how interventions designed to increase attachment security have beneficial effects on mental health, prosocial behavior, and intergroup relations, and discuss unaddressed issues concerning the mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of these interventions, the temporal course of these effects, and their interaction with countervailing forces. Michie, Susan.

This study investigated whether two positive morally relevant emotions, pride and gratitude, were associated with the prosocial behaviors exhibited by organizational leaders. Pride and gratitude were measured as dispositional tendencies in leaders across various types of organizations. Furthermore, the results indicated that leader gratitude mediated the effects of pridefulness on social justice behaviors. McGinley, Meredith, and Gustavo Carlo.

The relations between prosocial and physically aggressive behaviors. The direct and indirect relations between six types of prosocial behavior and physical aggression were examined. Structural equation modeling revealed that sympathy fully mediated the relations between compliant prosocial behaviors and physical aggression, and partially mediated the relations between altruism and physical aggression and public prosocial behaviors and physical aggression.

The findings suggest that the relations between prosocial behaviors and aggression are complex and that prosocial behavior should not be treated as a unitary construct. Hoeksma, and Gert Biesta. This study investigated to what extent team membership predicts on- and off-field antisocial and prosocial behavior in pre adolescent athletes. Effects of team-membership were related to characteristics of the team environment, such as relational support from the coach towards team members, fair play attitude and sociomoral reasoning within the team, and sociomoral climate.

The results highlight the importance of contextual factors in explaining both antisocial and prosocial behavior in adolescent athletes and emphasize the role of organized youth sports as a socialization context. Simpson, Brent, and Rob Willer. A persistent puzzle in the social and biological sciences is the existence of prosocial behavior, actions that benefit others, often at a cost to oneself.

Recent theoretical models and empirical studies of indirect reciprocity show that actors behave prosocially in order to develop an altruistic reputation and receive future benefits from third parties. Accordingly, individuals should stop investing in reputations via prosocial behavior when a future benefit via indirect reciprocity is unlikely. The conclusion that the absence of reputational incentives necessarily leads to egoistic behavior contrasts sharply with models of heterogeneous social preferences. Such models demonstrate the theoretical plausibility of populations composed of egoists and altruists.

Results of Study One show that actors classified a priori as egoists respond strategically to reputational incentives, whereas those classified a priori as altruists are less affected by these incentives. Egoists act prosocially when reputational incentives are at stake but not when opportunities for indirect reciprocity are absent, while altruists tend to act prosocially regardless of whether reputational incentives are present.

These results suggest that altruistic behavior can result from non-strategic altruism or reputation-building egoism. As a result, public prosocial behaviors are indirectly reciprocated less than private prosocial behaviors. Shipley, Andrew. Social comparison and prosocial behavior: An applied study of social identity theory in community food drives. Psychological Reports 2 Social Identity Theory and the concept of social comparison have inspired research on individuals, addressing effects of personal and environmental factors in directing social attention.

Altruism and Prosocial Behavior

Such behaviors may include attempts by an individual to enhance the relative status of his in-group on a salient dimension of comparison. Participants were aggregated by household; households in upper middle-class neighborhoods in Eugene and Salem, Oregon, were contacted. In Study 1 of households, it was hypothesized that inclusion of a social competition cue in requests for donation would significantly increase the likelihood of donation. This hypothesis was supported. Study 2 was done to clarify the possible role in a social comparison of perceived in-group inferiority in the prior observed increase in donations.

The inclusion of a social comparison cue in the donation request significantly increased donations in households of the second study. Small, Deborah A. Why do different people give to different causes? We show that the sympathy inherent to a close relationship with a victim extends to other victims suffering from the same misfortunes that have afflicted their friends and loved ones.

Both sympathy and donations are greater among those related to a victim, and they are greater among those in a communal relationship as compared to those in an exchange relationship. Experiments that control for information support causality and rule out the alternative explanation that any effect is driven by the information advantage possessed by friends of victims. Van Baaren, and Roos Vonk.

Mimicry is functional for empathy and bonding purposes. Studies on the consequences of mimicry at a behavioral level demonstrated that mimicry increases prosocial behavior. However, these previous studies focused on the mimickee. In the present paper, we investigated whether mimickers also become more helpful due to mimicry. In two studies, we have demonstrated that participants, who mimicked expressions of a person shown on a video, donated more money to a charity than participants who did not mimic.

Moreover, the processes by which mimicry and prosocial behavior are related largely remain empirically unexamined in existing literature. The results of Study 2 confirmed our hypothesis that affective empathy mediates the relationship between mimicry and prosocial behavior. This suggests that mimicry created an affective empathic mindset, which activated prosocial behaviors directed toward others. In this paper, we propose a decision framework where people are individually asked to either actively consent to or dissent from some pro-social behavior.

We hypothesize that confronting individuals with the choice of whether to engage in a specific pro-social behavior contributes to the formation of issue-specific altruistic preferences, while simultaneously involving a commitment. The hypothesis is tested in a large-scale field experiment on blood donations. Twenge, Jean, et al. In 7 experiments, the authors manipulated social exclusion by telling people that they would end up alone later in life or that other participants had rejected them. Social exclusion caused a substantial reduction in prosocial behavior.

Socially excluded people donated less money to a student fund, were unwilling to volunteer for further lab experiments, were less helpful after a mishap, and cooperated less in a mixed-motive game with another student. The results did not vary by cost to the self or by recipient of the help, and results remained significant when the experimenter was unaware of condition. The effect was mediated by feelings of empathy for another person but was not mediated by mood, state self-esteem, belongingness, trust, control, or self-awareness. The implication is that rejection temporarily interferes with emotional responses, thereby impairing the capacity for empathic understanding of others, and as a result, any inclination to help or cooperate with them is undermined.

Vaculik, Mark, J. Prochazka, and P. The research is focused on prosocial behavior. The authors are trying to answer this question: Will a prosocially acting person demand more prosocial behavior than a person with smaller tendency to prosocial behavior. The authors also concentrated on the relation between these tendencies and gender. The research group consisted of respondents each of whom completed a questionnaire identifying tendencies to act prosocially and to demand prosocial behavior.

According to the results there is a positive relation between the tendency to prosocial behavior and the tendency to demand prosocial behavior. Gender has no effect on the tendency to prosocial behavior but influences the tendency to demand prosocial behavior — women have stronger tendency to demand prosocial behavior than men.

Van Rompay, Thomas J. Vonk, and Marieke L. This study addresses the effects of security cameras on prosocial behavior. Results from previous studies indicate that the presence of others can trigger helping behavior, arising from the need for approval of others. Extending these findings, the authors propose that security cameras can likewise trigger such approval-seeking behaviors by implying the presence of a watchful eye.