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Prosocial Behavior

any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person


the desire to help another person even if it involves a costs to the helper

kin selection

the idea that behaviors that help a genetic relative are favored by natural selection

norm of reciprocity

the expectation that helping others will increase the likelihood that they will help us in the future


the ability to put oneself in the shoes of another person and to experience events and emotions (e.g., joy and sadness) the way that person experiences them

empathy-altruism hypothesis

the idea that when we feel empathy for a person, we will attempt to help that person purely for altruistic reasons, regardless of what we have to gain

altruistic personality

the qualities that cause an individual to help others in a wide variety of situations


the group with which an individual identifies as a member


any group with which an individual does not identify

negative-state relief hypothesis

the idea that people help in order to alleviate their own sadness and distress

urban overload hypothesis

the theory that people living in cities are constantly being bombarded with stimulation and that they keep to themselves to avoid being overwhelmed by it

bystander effect

the finding that the greater the number of bystanders who witness an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help

pluralistic ignorance

bystanders' assuming that nothing is wrong in an emergancy because no one else looks concerned

diffusion of responsibility

the phenomenon whereby each bystander's sense of responsibility to help decreases as the number of witnesses increases

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