Attitude Effects on Altruistic Behavior
The effects of attitude on altruistic behavior was examined. A total of 9 college students participated in the experiment. The students were randomly chosen and then randomly assigned a group number 1, 2, or 3. There were 3 different groups of participants (i.e., friendly, moderate, unfriendly), each with 3 participants per group. To assist the researcher, the participants??™ reaction time was observed. Results show that whether the researcher was friendly, moderate, or unfriendly, it did not affect the participants??™ altruistic behavior. However, the reaction time when encountered with a friendly attitude/personality was faster than the reaction time when encountered with an unfriendly attitude/personality. It was also found that woman were more likely to assist the researcher in need more often then men.
Attitude Effects on Altruistic Behavior
Altruism is considered to be a behavior that benefits another at one??™s own expense. In other words, it means to be completely unselfish. Whether it be helping out a fellow human being or a specific type of bird species that sings a ???warning call??? to alert the others of a nearby predator approaching, the majority of the human and animal population has either demonstrated, or has been on the receiving end of some version of altruistic behavior.
Every individual has the ability to react differently to certain types of attitudes/personalities. In fact, Peter J.D. Carnivale, Dean G. Pruitt and Patricia I. Carrington (1982) found that there tends to be more helping behavior between people who like one another than between people who dislike one another. We have predicted that participants who do not encounter a friendly behavior, but a moderate or unfriendly behavior, would credit absolutely no aid to the researcher during the experiment. When an individual fails to allude warmth and kindness onto you, you are less likely to trust and take a liking to that individual compared to one that showers you with a warm smile and generous personality.
Assuming that the trust is greater among individuals who like, rather than dislike one another, when faced with a request for help, an individual who already has a liking to that individual is more inclined to provide a helping hand (Carnivale et al., 1982). The main hypothesis for this experiment is that individuals who experience a friendly attitude/personality will be more likely to help that individual in a time of need.
The participants consisted of 9 college students (7 female, 2 male, age range: 19-47) from several different Psychology 100 classes at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, California in the Fall 2012 semester. Five of the participants were said to be Caucasian, 4 Hispanic, and 1 participant was said to be Indonesian. The participants that still remained in the hallway outside of the Research Methods classroom during the time we were allotted to conduct our experiment were to participate. The participants were randomly assigned a group number 1, 2, or 3. There were 3 different groups of participants each with 3 participants per group. The students participated in the experiment to gain extra credit points in their psychology class.
Materials and Apparatus
Each participant sat in a four-legged college class chair, and was given a half sheet of white printer paper with a five-question survey on memory. The questions were written in 12 pt, Times New Roman font. In the top left corner of each of the surveys was an area to put their age, gender, and ethnicity. Each participant was given a yellow number 2 pencil to complete the survey. In front of all 3 of the participants, another four-legged college class chair was placed with a 7X11 inch clear box of Legos resting on top of it.
A stopwatch that is accurate to .01 secs was used to measure the response time.
Design and Procedure
This experiment was conducted by means of an independent group design using one independent variable with three different levels. The independent variable was the attitude/personality of the researcher (e.g., friendly, moderate, unfriendly).
The first level, being friendly, consisted of the researcher smiling continuously, complementing the participants clothing (e.g., shoes, shirt, etc.), being helpful, cheerful, explaining everything in a pleasant tone of voice, and answering any questions or concerns in a delightful way. The second level, having a moderate attitude towards the participants, included the researcher having no facial expression, being very business like, and only explaining what was necessary. The third, and final level, with the researcher acting unfriendly, incorporated having an angry expression, being short and blunt, coming off frustrated, and being impatient (e.g., sighing).
The dependent variable was the participants??™ reaction time once the Legos fell of the chair and were spilt on the ground in front of them (e.g., help, did not help).
The experiment was done in the same college classroom (Research Methods) with the same researcher, and at the same time of day for each group of participants. The classroom was approximately 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
First, the participants were broken into groups outside of the classroom and put into groups 1 (friendly), 2 (moderate), or 3 (unfriendly). Group 1 entered the classroom first and was told by the researcher (female) to sit in one of the three chairs in order to participate in the experiment. The participants were then told that they would be taking part in a memory survey and were given a five-question survey to distract from the true purpose of the experiment (i.e., how many times they needed to read a paragraph to understand the material presented in front of them), and a yellow number 2 pencil. The participants were told to keep the survey face down until told they could turn it over. When the researcher said it was okay to start, the participants were able to turn over the survey and were allotted 1 minute to complete the questions on the survey. When the participants were finished with the survey and the survey was collected by the researcher, they were instructed that they would need to look at 4 different pictures of Legos, having a minute to study each picture. Lastly, the participants were told they would have an additional 4 minutes in total to replicate all 4 pictures by memory on the ground in front of them with the supplied Legos.
However, after the researcher collected the surveys from each participant and walked to the chair centered, and approximately 3 feet in front of each participant, the researcher ???accidently??? knocked over the bucket of Legos. The researcher quickly muttered, ???Shit???, and then proceeded to bend over and slowly gather all of the spilt Legos. This allowed time for the participants to decide whether or not they were going to get up and help the researcher gather the spilt materials.
The researcher allowed up to 20 seconds after spilling the Legos on the floor in order to see how many of the participants would react to the spilling before ending the experiment. In the back of the room, was another researcher counting the number of participants that assisted in scooping up the Legos and, simultaneously, using a stopwatch to record the response time of each participant.
Once the researcher conducting the survey waited the allotted amount of time for the reaction of the participants, she revealed the true intention of the experiment (reaction time) to the participants. After the experiment was finished, the researcher kindly asked the participants not to communicate or reveal the true intention of the experiment that was to be conducted with the other participants. Once the researcher escorted the participants out of the classroom they were free to leave or go home. This was done the same way for each of the 3 different group trials.
Our results showed that out of all 3 groups and 9 total participants, Group 1 and 3 both each had one female participant choose to help the researcher gather the spilt Legos. In Group 2, there were no participants that volunteered to assist the researcher (See Figure I).
As previously stated above, our null hypothesis was that the participants who experienced a friendly attitude/personality (e.g., Group 1) would be more likely in aiding the researcher to collect the dropped Legos. We found that whether the researcher was friendly, moderate, or unfriendly, it did not affect the participants??™ altruistic behavior. Also, we did not expect any of the participants who experienced a business like or unfriendly attitude/personality to help aid the researcher.
The statistical data was found to be insufficient and not significant using a One-Way ANOVA Test F (2,6) = 0.5, p = 0.629738 using the significance level of .05.
The purpose of our experiment was to conduct a study to measure if the attitude of one individual affects another??™s reaction to help that individual when they are in obvious need of aid. Our hypothesis stated that participants who experienced a friendly attitude/personality would be more likely to aid the researcher in collecting the fallen Legos compared to the participants who did not. Our results show that whether the researcher was friendly, moderate, or unfriendly, it did not affect the participants??™ altruistic behavior.
According to a previous study by Anneke Vrugt and Carolijn Vet (2009), evidence shows that the participants used in their study, each of which were smiled at, were more willing to offer help vs. the participants who were not smiled at. Vrugt and Vet (2009) found that the more pleasant the researchers were to their participants, the more willing the participants were to help them. Our results partly support their findings: we observed that in the case where the researcher was friendly (i.e., Group 1), it increased the helpfulness of a single participant. In contrast, however, another group where the researcher was unfriendly, a single participant also helped aid the researcher in picking up Legos. In conclusion, when encountered with a friendly attitude/personality the participant??™s reaction time was faster than the participant who encountered an unfriendly attitude/personality. Indeed, the participant that assisted the researcher in picking up the Legos during the unfriendly trial could have previously been in a good mood during that particular day and time.
In addition to our null hypothesis, we inferred that none of the participants who encountered moderate or unfriendly behavior (i.e., Group 1 and 2) would participate in helping to pick up the remaining fallen Legos. Interestingly enough, we found during our experiment that when the researcher knocked over the box of Legos, none of the participants in either one of the groups jumped up immediately to help pick up the spilt Legos. It took the participants approximately anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds to react and respond to helping pick up the spill. Perhaps, to ensure that more participants have enough time and a chance to react and help aid the researcher, the chair that holds the Legos could be placed closer to the participants. On the other hand, the reaction time of the participants delayed assistance was also thought to possibly be due to the measure of each individual??™s shyness.
However, a finding in a previous study does not support this hypothesis. Lori M. Karakashian, Mark I. Walter, Andrew N. Christopher, & Todd Lucas (2006) found that an individuals shyness did not affect the participants time in helping whether the individual was deemed to be shy or not shy. Nevertheless, the lack of helpfulness from the participants could have been due to the limited number available for our experiment. Also, the minimal helpfulness in participants could fall onto the physical shape of each and could be the determining factor on how quickly one can get out of a chair.
Some individuals, whether they are in a good or bad mood, may be more inclined to perform good deeds (i.e., helping someone in need) when they are in the company of other individuals or in front of an audience. M. Karakashian et al., (2006) found that most individuals tend to care about the impressions they give off to others; therefore their actions will be more focused on creating a good image of themselves in the eyes of others. This way, the good deed will not only go unnoticed, but the individual could possibly encounter some praise and recognition for their ???helping??? actions.
In regards to Group 3, it took a female participant 15 seconds (most Legos were already gathered) to help the researcher finish picking up and find all the free Legos that had dropped. When she had finished helping, a fellow female participant who did not help in picking up of the fallen materials, gave her a compliment on how nice of a person she thought she was for helping the researcher clean up. This goes to show that performing a good deed (i.e., picking up Legos) supports the view of the Bystander Effect from M. Karkasian et al., (2006) that an individual??™s actions will be more focused on creating a good image on themselves when in the presence of others.
Another intriguing find was women were more likely to help the female researcher who was in need of assistance more often then the men were. Out of the first two groups and 6 participants (4 female, 2 male), neither of the men showed any interest or movement toward helping the researcher gather the Legos that had fallen on the floor in front of them. In contrast, M. Karakashian et al., (2006) discovered that men are socially predisposed to help women in chivalrous and heroic acts supported by their gender role, and also give a large amount of help to women when under surveillance by onlookers, most likely because an audience is generally regarded as reinforcement to support social norms. In the future, having the same amount of male to female ratio in the experiment can better help understand and back this theory.
In further research, it may be beneficial to the researchers and future experiments if there were to be a larger sample size of participants in each trial. Due to the fact that there were a limited number of participants available, there was not much consistency and we were unable to collect sufficient data for our experiment. Also, to request participation in an experiment that an individual is not completely aware of or know the content it entails, can be intimidating and time consuming. Manipulating the independent variable (i.e., researcher??™s attitude/personality) showed to be more difficult then initially expected. Even though it was the same female researcher for all 3 trials, there was a wealth of possible determinants. These include the researchers tone of voice, eye contact, and ability to make sure that the spilling of Legos looked to be purposeful (natural vs. staged). Even a slight mistake in verbal communication (i.e., saying hello when needing to be unfriendly) may change the participants view on the researcher. Lastly, even though all of the participants in each group were asked not to discuss the study with the remaining participants, when standing outside of the classroom all participants are in very close proximity to one another and have an abundant amount of opportunities to communicate with one another.
Carnevale, P. J. D., Pruitt, D. G., & Carrington, P. I. (1982). Effects of future dependence,
liking and repeated requests for help on helping behavior. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45, 9-14
Karakashian, L. M., Walter, M. I., Christopher, A. N., & Lucas, T. (2006). Fear of negative
evaluation affects helping behavior: the bystander effect revisted. North American Journal of Psychology, 8, 13-32
Vrugt, A., & Vet, C. (2009). Effects of a smile on mood and helping behavior.
Social Behavior and Personality, 37, 1251-1258
Results show that out of groups 1 (friendly), 2 (moderate), and 3(unfriendly), Group 1 and 3 each had one participant choose to help the researcher gather the spilt Legos. In Group 2, there were no participants that volunteered to assist the researcher.