What is pro-social behaviour? Most of us have heard of anti-social behaviour. This is behaviour that harms others and shows a lack of concern for their well-being. pro-social behaviour is the opposite. It is behaviour that helps others and shows a concern for them. Prosocial behaviour also includes altruism, which is when we help others and show a real concern for them, without any expectation of benefit for ourselves, and sometimes at a personal cost. As a friend of mine once said, “It is easy to do something good; it is difficult not to go around telling others that you have done it.”
The bystander effect is the phenomenon that the more people witness a person needing help, the less likely they are to actually help. This is for several reasons:
- Bystander apathy – they think somebody else will help (Darley and Latané, 1964).
- Group inhibition – as nobody else seems to be helping, they re-assess the situation as non-problematic. (Latané and Rodin, 1969)
- Might make it worse – embarrassment or fear of doing the wrong thing. (Darley and Latané, 1968).
This disturbing video shows how the bystander effect is a real phenomenon.