This is a research paper I made on Prosocial Behaviour. This is a school project, and the main purpose of me showing this to the outside world is to get feedback from the outside world. If you could help me with that, that would be great!
2. Victor Urud
This research paper has a tremendous amount of information on pro-social
behaviour, or in other words, this research paper is all based on pro-social behaviour.
Though this research paper may be based mostly upon pro-social behaviour and topics that
relate greatly to it, such as the bystander effect, this research paper is composed of a
research question that would then be completed by a set of target questions that would
help narrow down information that would be needed for the research question in debate.
My research question on the matter is, “Does the gender of a person influence the likelihood
of whether a person will help another in distress?” Going in depth with my research
question, I aim to see the relationship between the gender of a person and their willingness
to help a person in distress, and this is where the information on pro-social behaviour
Prosocial behaviour, as defined by about.com
Prosocial behaviors are those intended to help other people. Prosocial behavior is
characterized by a concern about the rights, feelings and welfare of other people.
Behaviors that can be described as prosocial include feeling empathy and concern
for others and behaving in ways to help or benefit other people (about.com).
This means that prosocial behaviour is where any helpful actions that would benefit others,
without the intention of benefits given back to the helper. But what drives people to help
others? According to Wikipedia, empathy plays a big role in prosocial behaviour. Empathy,
as defined by google, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” This is
where a person can put themselves in another person’s shoe. They understand what they’re
going through, may even been through what they’ve been through. This is one way a person
is influenced to help another person. Though this may not seem like it’s going to help with
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my research question, it is important to know the backbone of this research, prosocial
behaviour, and what it is all about. (Wikipedia)
The bystander effect is a huge topic that is covered under the prosocial behaviour
topic. The bystander effect is where the more people are in an area, the less likely people
would help a person in distress. This is where the question raises on why the surroundings
of an area influence the decision of a person helping. As there are more people in an area,
one may feel less personally responsible to respond to an event. People will always assume
that someone else will help a person in distress. But with my research question, I wanted to
go in depth on whether the gender of a person influences their decision to help others.
There is a difference in gender obviously, and what affects their decision. As this is a
research paper, I have found that researches discovered that males are more helpful than
female when in public, and when in emergency (Baumeister). This could be due to the
dominance than the male species has throughout the aging of the world, men has been the
ones to do all the physical hard work, whilst women have worked along to support men.
Men have fought in wars, go through the evolution of it, discovered and invented new ways
to help them proceed in life. (Heroic Imagination Project)
A target question that I think that would help with the research question, “When in a
group, is there a dominant gender that would engage in the support for a person in
distress?” As I pointed out in the paragraph above, men are more helpful than women when
in public, and when in emergency situations. Is this due to the male dominance? Or are men
built to be this way? To prove where men have been the ones to be more helpful than
women in a given situation, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has been giving out a
“hero” award to “a civilian who voluntarily risks his or her own life, knowingly, to an
extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person”(Pg 275
Baumeister). I could either interpret this as people who involve themselves in situations like
this to give themselves a better image, or where they are real heroes that actually want to
help people. This hero award has been awarded to 90% of men, and this award has been
given out ever since 1904. This shows the dominance of men when in public, and in
emergencies. As men are the ones to be dominant when in helping, when in a group, they
would be the ones to be more dominant, as of my research question.
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Another target question as of that would help my research question, “Does the
gender of a victim influence the likelihood of a person to help the victim, acknowledging the
gender of the helper?” What I am trying find out from this target question is that if the
gender of the helper would be influenced by the gender of the victim. From what we know
of the previous target question, we know that men are found to be more helpful than
women in public, where this may be due to their physiques, the pride of men, or just to be
helpful. But does the gender of the victim affects the decision of the helper to help them?
As why I have this as a research question, the attractiveness of a person can certainly
influence the willingness for the helper to help. We live in a world where socialisation is one
of the important things in our lives, and to interact with others is how we socialize. As we
know that men are the ones who are more likely to help others, I think that this target
question is more focused towards men than women, but it does not change the fact that
the attractiveness of a victim would surely influence the willingness of a person to help.
People are more likely to help attractive victims, rather than unattractive victims. An
experiment has been done to research this matter (Benson, Karabenick, & Lerner,
1976)(Baumeister). In this experiment, application forms, the address of the applicant, and a
photograph of the applicant is put into a phone booth in an airport, where a wanderer or
the “victim” of the experiment would walk into the phone booth where they would discover
the applicant form. Now the photograph of the applicant changes now and then, so in this
trial the photograph of the applicant is an attractive person. Most people who entered the
phone booth and discovered the applicant was more likely to mail the application form to
the attractive applicant. It wasn’t the same story for the other trial where the photograph of
the applicant was an unattractive person. People were more likely to mail the application
form to the attractive applicant, rather than the unattractive applicant. This may have not
answered my target question, but as men are the ones who are most likely to help, and if
the gender of the victim is the opposite gender, and they are attractive, it would increase
the likelihood for the helper to help. To answer this target question, it may work sometimes,
it may not, but depending on the helper, the gender of the victim may or may not affect the
willingness of the helper.
I decided to conduct an experiment on this matter, with the help from a number of
my peers. This experiment is mainly focused on the bystander effect, where we would have
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a person walk with a box of writing utensils, and drop it in the view of a wanderer and start
picking up the pencils. Video cameras are set up to record the actions of the test subjects.
The lab report of the experiment is found below.
Prosocial Behavior Lab
In this experiment, I would like to determine whether people who witnessed another
person in need of help, would choose to help or not to. A box of writing utensils is needed in
this experiment, where a ‘victim’ of a situation would drop the box of writing utensils and
‘test subjects’ that would wonder around and come across this victim, and their decision
would be recorded of where they decide to help the victim or not. Cameras are set up
around to record every action of the test subject. This method of dropping the box of
writing utensils could happen anywhere in the real world and is a feasible method as it is a
situation that is most likely to occur in areas such as school.
The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether people who witnessed
another person in need of help, would react in a positive way by helping them, or would just
walk off as if nothing happens. As of my research question, “Does the gender of a person
influences the likelihood of whether a person will help another in distress?”, gender would
be the independent variable. The experiment would be conducted on a number of subjects,
with their genders being varied.
My hypothesis is that men would be the ones more helpful than women because of the
dominance of the male gender, and with some research made on the two genders, the male
gender are the ones that are more likely to help.
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Box and writing utensils
Is Subject Alone? Does Subject
Is Subject in
a group? (If
Male Yes Yes Subject was caught by surprise,
acknowledging that he witnessed
another person in distress. Seems to
hesitate at first, but was picking
pencils that fell far away
Male No No No Subject in effect of Bystander Effect.
He wasn’t alone but didn’t know
anyone around him. Continued as if
Female Yes No Subject greeted “Victim” but did not
help, acknowledging another person
Male No No Yes Subject in a group with subject
below, both acknowledge the victim
in distress but continued to talk to
each other while standing in front of
person in distress. Possibly in
Male No No Yes
Male Yes Yes Subject saw victim, helped victim.
Female Yes No
Female Yes No Subject saw victim but continued to
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walk past victim.
Male Yes Yes Helps victim, but may be influenced
by fact that subject knows victim
Female No No No Subject was alone but people were
around. May be in effect of
Bystander Effect. Acknowledge that
victim needed help
Male No Yes No Helps victim, but may be influenced
by fact that subject knows victim
Female No Yes No Subject alone but with people
around. The only one to help out of
the others, where they walked
passed victim. Others in Bystander
Male Yes No Subject seem to be in a rush,
acknowledge victim needed help.
Female Yes Yes Subject is school principle, decision
to help may be to keep good image,
or her own intention to help.
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My experiment satisfied the aim of this experiment, to determine whether people
who witnessed another person in need of help, would react in a positive way by helping
them, or would just walk off as if nothing happens. But the data may not be as accurate as
we want it to. First of all, since this is a school, almost everyone here knows each other, and
this is a factor that would affect the data. If a test subject knows who the ‘victim’ is, it would
surely affect the decision of the test subject on helping the victim, depending on their
relationship. In our case, our test subjects were students, teachers, and parents of the
school. For example, in a trial where I was the victim, I dropped the box full of pencil and a
teacher walked by and just looked at me and smiled. If the subject was a total stranger, the
data would be much accurate because most prosocial behaviour occurs in public and the
chances of you knowing another person is really small. So the relationship between the
subject and the victim would affect the data. Another factor that would affect our data is in
which way we wanted help from the test subject. Having a box on pencil all over the ground
and picking it up, to most people this is not something that would be in ‘need’ of help with.
A way that we could test our experiment to the limit is to change the method of our need in
help by having it in a more ‘emergent’ situation, like having a guy lying down on the ground.
By doing so, we could really see the true decision of a test subject where they have to
decide if the person needs help or not.
Gender vs Willingness to Help
9. Victor Urud
My hypothesis was that men would be the ones more helpful than women, and
according to my data, the number of men who helped versus the number of women who
helped differed. Men had the better number on helping rather than the opposite gender.
But there was one factor that prevented both genders from helping the victim, the
Bystander Effect, when not alone in the same situation. The Bystander Effect is where the
more number of people in an area, the less likely that people are to help another in distress.
An observation I made, when in a group, people may have been busy up in a conversation
with each other and not wanting to be the one to break the conversation, no one from the
group helped the victim. Another observation I made is that one test subject hesitated to
help a victim when the victim was seen already being helped by another person. The
Bystander Effect plays a big role on whether a person would help another in distress.
Though this may not connect on the gender roles, it affects the data of where a person may
help while being in the Bystander Effect. Looking at the chart graph, we could see that men
are more likely to help rather than women, with factors to affect it. But an observation I
made whilst performing the experiment, men were not just helped, they intended on
helping with a smile on their face, while the opposite gender would walk slowly past the
victim and not help them. This observation is key as it surely would discuss why men are the
ones who are more likely to help others in distress.
With the given conclusion from the lab, I stated my hypothesis is that men would be
the ones who are more likely to help others in distress. Concluding the experiment, my
hypothesis would be right with the observations given, that men are more likely to help
others rather than women. In the research that I have conducted, it also supports my
hypothesis in my lab. One key thing that would help my research question, in the
experiment I conducted, the victim of the experiment is a girl in most of the trials. This
would relate with my target question which states, “Does the gender of a victim influence
the likelihood of a person to help the victim, acknowledging the gender of the helper?” With
men having the ones to help the most in my experiment, the answer to this target question
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would be; yes, the gender of a victim influences the likelihood of a person to help the victim.
An observation I did as mentioned in my lab, was that the men who helped the victim with
the box of writing utensils, did it with their own, happy intention. They didn’t help because
they had to; they helped because they wanted to. We could connect this to the Benson,
Karabenick, & Lerner experiment. Gender did influence their decision on helping, where this
may be due to the socializing world. Since men are the ones who are most likely to help, and
especially if it is the opposite gender that needs help, this would help with the research
question of where the gender of a person influences the likelihood of the person to help
another in distress.
One factor that is not connected to my research question, but is connected to the
whole topic is the Bystander Effect. The Bystander Effect as we know it effect is where the
more people are in an area, the less likely people would help a person in distress. This
occurred in the experiment I conducted as if the subject was surrounded with people, they
were less likely to help the victim. In this matter, it disabled me from collecting data that
would show the decision made by different genders as for some people to be in the
Bystander Effect, it would affect their decision to help. But in all the trials I made with
people being in the Bystander Effect, one lady helped the victim with the box of pencils,
whilst at the same time, a person of the opposite gender hesitated to help with others being
around. This would answer one of my target questions, “When in a group, is there a
dominant gender that would engage in the support for a person in distress?” No one in a
group, acknowledging the genders, helped the victim. The Bystander Effect plays a role in a
group decisions, but I propose that it varies on the level of the emergence. If it is something
as small as picking up pencils, you wouldn’t need a group to help you out. But if it is
something of high level of emergence, it would influence the decision making. The greater
the need for help, the more likely people in a group will help.
With the experiment conducted and the research being made, I can conclude that
yes, the gender of a person influences the likelihood of whether a person will help another
in distress. Men are more likely to help others in oppose of the opposite gender. Though the
experiment conducted may have factors that would show some inaccuracy in data, it still
supported my hypothesis and my research question. There is no dominant gender that
would help when in a group, but that is out of our context of the how much help is needed
11. Victor Urud
by the victim. Despite the Bystander Effect playing a role in the experiment, it still narrows
the conclusion that yes, the gender of a person influences the likelihood of whether a
person would help another in distress, and that gender would be the male gender.
"Altruism - The Definition of Altruism." About.com Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.
"Bystander Effect and Diffusion of Responsibility." Heroic Imagination Project RSS. N.p., n.d.
Web. 27 Apr. 2014.
Baumeister, Roy F., and Brad J. Bushman. Social Psychology and Human Nature. Belmont,
CA: Thomson Higher Education, 2008. Print.
"Prosocial Behavior." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
"Prosocial Behavior - Psychology - About.com." About.com Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 28