responses than a cold, suspicious, punitive situation. So be friendly
and choose friends who are generous to others. As you might expect,
if the situation poses some danger--like intervening in a family fight--
we are less likely to offer help. There is some danger there. But, as
you might not expect, research has also shown that the more people
present at the scene of a crisis (and, thus, less dangerous), the less
likely it is that a person will offer help, presumably because each
person assumes that someone else will call an ambulance or give first
aid, etc. (Staub, 1975). So look for things you can do. Don't assume
that someone else will come to the rescue.
Perhaps the most important awareness for you to have is this:
knowing the steps involved in helping someone increases the
likelihood (from 25% to 42%) that you or I will actually offer help.
Thus, training programs are important; there one can practice by role-
playing helpful, empathic, and caring responses. "Affective education"
where one listens to moral stories and discusses morals and moral
dilemmas in small groups increases behavior considerate of others.
Haan, Aerts, & Cooper (1985) concluded, however, that strictly
academic or intellectual discussions of moral principles don't help us
much. Instead, getting involved in a real group where real
interpersonal conflicts arise and are worked out fairly is a great
learning experience. We need to get emotionally involved and
experience the feelings, intentions, and actions of others when in
conflict; we need to observe the consequences of others' actions when
in moral dilemmas. Making a commitment to be helpful to others is
also important (Staub, 1975; Maitland & Goldman, 1974; Vitz, 1990).
The heart has its reasons that reason doesn't know.
Altruism depends first on your liking and accepting others, second on
your being concerned for others' welfare, and third on your feeling
responsible for helping others in need.
Latane' and Darley (1970) have described five steps in the
complicated decision to help someone: (1) notice when someone is in
trouble. Fears and shyness can cause us to ignore the needs of others.
(2) Carefully determine if the person actually needs help. We are often
prone to quickly assume they are all right. (3) Decide to personally
take responsibility for helping the other person. Don't avoid a person
in need. (4) Decide what you can do. Knowing first aid or having dealt
with alcoholics, drug users, epileptics, flat tires, engine problems,
divorces, parent-child conflicts, etc. increases the chances we will offer
our help. (5) Perform the helpful deed. In short, if you feel more