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Motivation to Help Essay

This paper discusses the social psychological perspective on helping. It tackles the factors that lead people to help other people and the theoretical basis on such actions. It also includes a reflection on the altruistic property in helping. Motivation to Help The murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 as one of the most disturbing cases where almost 40 people were witnesses but none of them called the police in time to rescue her. This baffled social psychologists as to how this was possible. The result of their investigation was the formation of the concept of the Genovese Syndrome.

This condition is theorized to exist on certain emergency situations where people encounter a diffusion of responsibility. This was because of the notion that there will be someone who will carry out the responsibility (Alex, 2008). On a personal account, an example of this behavior was observed in the sidewalk near a well-known shopping center. A lady, approximately aged 50 years was walking on the nearly crowded pavement when two men riding a motorcycle snatched her bag. It was not easily taken from her since she tried to defend herself and her belongings.

The struggle made the two men shoot the lady until she was down on the sidewalk. The initial reaction of the people there was to run away from the scene. When the two men quickly left, the people slowly went towards the lady. Nobody helped until the lady screamed in pain. There are a number of factors that have resulted to the lack of responsiveness of the people on the victim. One of which is the bystander effect. Since there are more people in the area, the responsibility of helping the victim is divided among them.

Each of these people had two choices of whether they should act or wait for someone to do it. Thus, the more people there are in the area means that people feel less obligated (“The Bystander Effect”, n. d. ). Also, the scream of the lady may have somehow alarmed the people around her, which may have motivated the some people to finally help her. Basically, there are five steps to helping or prosocial behavior. First of all, in order to help, there must be a realization that something is happening. It must also be interpreted as an emergency.

The person who is to help must also feel the responsibility towards the situation. He must also know how he is going to help. Finally, the costs of helping are also assessed (Stocker, n. d. ). In this particular scenario, the five steps were evident. Although the initial reaction was to run because of the gun shot, people did realize that it was an emergency situation. However, because there were a lot of people, they did not have much responsibility for the situation because of the assumption that someone will act.

When the lady screamed and the two men left, it was the time when someone helped, knowing that the costs are already low and it was no longer dangerous. There are many theories which explain why people are motivated to help. However, the most widely accepted theory on the subject is the theory of Victor Vroom, known as the expectancy theory. This simply states that people are motivated to help because they are expecting something in return such as a reward, or a good performance appraisal (Shah, n. d. ). Based on this theory, the act of helping may not be truly altruistic because of the tendency to expect for something in return.

If the one helping does not want anything as a reward, it may be because of other outside factors such as his social image, religion, or the dictate of the society. Nevertheless, additional helped could have been offered in the situation, knowing the there were a lot of people in the situation. If all of them felt responsible for the incident, it is most likely that the crime would have been prevented. References Alex. (2008, February 13). The Genovese Syndrome: When Nobody Helps. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from Neatorama: http://www. neatorama. com/2008/02/13/the-genovese-syndrome-when-nobody-helps/

Shah, K. , & Shah, P. (n. d. ). Theories of Motivation. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from Laynetworks: http://www. laynetworks. com/Theories-of-Motivation. html# Stocker, S. (n. d. ). Social Psychology. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://webcache. googleusercontent. com/search? q=cache:P4aNe4_DzhsJ:www. spsp. org/student/intro/ppt/myers15. ppt+five+steps+to+prosocial+behavior&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ph The Bystander Effect. (n. d. ). Retrieved July 14, 2010, from Changing Minds: http://changingminds. org/explanations/theories/bystander_effect. htm


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