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Explain the Concept of Pro-social Behaviour. - Psychology

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Answer in Brief

Explain the concept of pro-social behaviour.

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Pro-social behaviour is any positively valued behaviour that does good to another person, is done without any pressure from outside and without any expectation of a reward or a return.

Humans are social beings. Most of their activities are organized with the help of others. We cannot live and grow unless there is support from others. We often engage in helping others. Such efforts are considered as pro-social behaviour. For any behaviour to be pro-social, it should fulfil the following conditions:

  • There has to be an intention to benefit the other person. Any pro-social act, which one accomplishes by compulsion or as a requirement of a job, does not merit to be called ‘pro-social’.
  • The behaviour should be considered socially desirable by the other members of the society. Obviously, helping a thief in stealing is not a pro-social behaviour.
  • If an act intended to benefit others is also expect to benefit the helper, it cannot be termed as ‘pro-social’.

The intentions and the consequent positive behaviour are more important considerations of pro-social behaviour than the actual benefits.

The other term which are used interchangeably with pro-social behaviour is altruism. The literal meaning of altruism is “doing things or acting for the interest of others without any ulterior motive.” It is a behaviour that reflects an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. All charitable, humanitarian, philanthropic activities, which people do without any self-interest, come under the category of altruism behaviour.

Determinants of Pro-social Behaviour :- The pro-social behaviour depends on many factors.

  • Pro-social behaviour is based on an inborn, natural tendency in human beings to help other members of their own species.
  • Pro-social behaviour is influenced by learning through modelling and positive reinforcement in the family.
  • Cultural factors influence pro-social behaviour. Some cultures actively encourage people to help the needy and distressed. Individuals in cultures suffering from a shortage of resources may not show a high level of pro-social behaviour.
  • Pro-social behaviour is expressed when the situation activates certain ‘social norms’ that require helping others.
    Three norms have been mentioned in context of pro-social behaviour:-
  1. The norms of social responsibility. We should help anyone who needs help without considering any other factors.
  2. The norms of reciprocity. We should help persons who have helped us in the past.
  3. The norms of equity. We should help others whenever we find that it is fair to do so.
  • Pro-social behaviour is affected by the expected reactions of the person who is being helped. For example, people might be unwilling to give money to a needy person because they feel that the person might feel insulted, or may become dependent.
  • Pro-social behaviour is more likely to be shown individuals who have a high level of empathy, that is, the capacity to feel the distress of the person who is to be helped, e.g., Mother Teresa.

Factors inhibiting Pro-social Behaviour :-

(a)Diffusion of Responsibility :- Pro-social behaviour may be reduced when the number of bystanders is more than one. On the other hand, if there is only one bystander, this person is more likely to take responsibility and actually help the victim. It happens because each person thinks that others will take the responsibility.

(b)Feeling State of the Individual :- Person in a bad mood, being busy with one’s own problems or feeling that the person to be helped is responsible for his/her problem, may not help others.

Concept: Pro-social Behaviour
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NCERT Class 12 Psychology
Chapter 6 Attitude and Social Cognition
Exercise | Q 11 | Page 126
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