Be it helping a friend when they were sick or helping a stranger find an address or rescuing an injured animal, we have engaged in such behaviour at least once in our lifetime. This kind of behaviour does not necessarily have any immediate benefit for the person engaging in it, which is why it is referred to as prosocial behaviour. But, when there are no immediate benefits for the person, why do they engage in such prosocial acts?
Social psychologists have tried to answer this question by giving three hypothesis.
- Empathy- Altruism Hypothesis – According to this hypothesis, prosocial behaviour involves empathy and that an individual’s act is motivated simply by their desire to help a person in need
- Empathic-Joy Hypothesis – This hypothesis suggests that people help as they wish to have a positive effect on others. The helpers, in fact, enjoy to see the positive reactions by the people who are at the receiving end.
- Negative-State Relief Hypothesis – This hypothesis suggests that other people’s suffering induces negative emotions and feelings in the bystander and they are motivated to help them in order to reduce such negative feelings.