Prosocial Behaviour

Prosocial behaviour means helping another person or, in a broader sense, acting in a way that benefits society as a whole. It encompasses activities such as helping an old person across a road, donating money to charity, giving aid when someone is injured or even donating a kidney to a person with kidney disease. In other words, prosocial behaviour is a phrase for the act of being kind to the other people who inhabit the world.

Not surprisingly, research psychologists have come up with some entertaining and occasionally alarming ways of studying prosocial behaviour. For instance, in the footage below, which is completely silent but strangely compelling, you can observe whether a person, when left alone, decides to report a fire. You can then watch a person who is in a group situation and observe how she reacts when smoke begins to pour into the room. Whether the person is alone or not affects her reaction, as you will see.

Having observed this relatively old study, you might like to attempt the true/false quiz in the slideshow below. This provides a gentle introduction to the scientific study of kindness. You can then watch a recent study about rats who displayed  “empathically motivated helping behaviour” in a laboratory environment.

Prosocial Behaviour

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