Web Exercises

  1. Briefly highlight the contributions of “nature” and “nurture” to helping, altruism, and empathy. Cite research described in your textbook where appropriate. Read the brief comment at http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2012/07/brain-regions-tied-to-altruism/1#.Vkj4ZnarSM8. Describe the result of the Fehr et al. study in one sentence. Does the finding described in the last sentence of the commentary complicate the straightforward picture of a brain basis for generosity? Why or why not? Relate this finding to the social responsibility norm described in your textbook. Read the article at https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/stanford-psychologists-show-altruism-not-simply-innate. Describe the Barragan and Dweck research reviewed in the article; be sure to identify the participants, manipulation, and results. How do the results contradict the notion of “innate altruism” mentioned in the article? This exercise should enable you to: define the social responsibility norm, inclusive fitness, the principle of kin selection, and the heritability of helping behavior.
  2. Social Psychology in the News. Europeans have greeted the influx of Syrian refugees with at least as much altruism and goodwill as aggression and xenophobia. Read the article at http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/09/how-evolutionary-biologists-explain-altruism.html. Cite one of the article’s examples of European altruism toward refugees. Define inclusive fitness and the principle of kin selection. The New York Magazine article describes evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson’s notion of multilevel selection. How does multilevel selection go beyond kin selection? Why is multilevel selection insufficient to explain the instances of altruism toward refugees described in the article? How does Larissa MacFarquhar account for these examples of altruism? Suggest how evolutionary psychologists might explain “extreme altruism”: how might it be adaptive? Based on the article, suggest one trait that may be negatively associated with extreme altruism. This exercise will develop your understanding of kin selection and inclusive fitness.
  3. Define Latane and Darley’s bystander effect and suggest how it might reflect pluralistic ignorance and diffusion of responsibility. Read the article on the bystander effect in 5-year-olds at http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/04/bystander-effect-in-5-year-olds.html. Describe the study, identifying the participant groups and experimental manipulation. State the results. How do the results support diffusion of responsibility as a better explanation for the bystander effect that such alternative accounts as social anxiety? Evaluate the results of the study with respect to the “nature” or “nurture” basis of diffusion of responsibility. Can you think of an evolutionary account of the phenomenon of diffusion of responsibility? This exercise helps you explain the roles of diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance in failures to help.
  4. Social Psychology Applied to Work: Organizational Citizenship. Expand on your textbook’s discussion of organizational citizenship behavior by viewing the slides at http://www.slideshare.net/sharathgrao/organizational-citizenship-behavior. Identify and describe the five types of organizational citizenship behavior described in the slideshow. For each type, provide your own example of an individual demonstrating either a high or a low level of organizational citizenship. Identify the levels at which organizational citizenship may be analyzed. Suggest a variable at each level that you think may be positively associated with organizational citizenship. Think of two examples of your own organizational citizenship behavior. Discuss your motivations for each behavior with respect to the altruism versus egoism debate and suggest the variables that may have influenced your behavior. This exercise reinforces the definitions of altruism and egoism.
  5. Doing Research; Social Psychology, Social Media, and Technology. Your textbook describes the safeguards the American Psychological Association has established to protect human research participants. Define informed consent and debriefing and identify several elements of each. Visit http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr00/fairorfoul.aspx for a discussion of the unique ethical challenges of online research. Briefly describe several of these challenges. You may have explored Facebook’s covert newsfeed study in Exercise 6.6: refresh your memory by visiting http://www.cbsnews.com/news/researcher-apologizes-for-facebook-study-in-emotional-manipulation/. Based on what you have learned by reading the APA Monitor page, how do you think the Facebook researchers might defend their assertions that 1) users provided sufficient informed consent when they agreed to Facebook’s terms of service and 2) the researchers’ publication of the study’s results constitutes effective debriefing? Would you be satisfied by these arguments? Why or why not? This exercise affords an opportunity to discuss the practices that social psychologists have established to help safeguard the well-being of participants.