Exercise: Prosocial Behavior
Much of what we tend to focus on when we study social psychology are topics that often have a negative connotation such as conformity, prejudice, aggression or obedience. A huge component of the study of social psychology; however, focuses on prosocial behavior – behaviors that focus on compassion and helping others. For this activity, you will focus on this more uplifting aspect of social psychology. Topics that fall under the area of prosocial behavior include altruism, helping, bystander intervention, empathy, and compassion, among others.
For this exercise, pick one day and seek to structure your thoughts and behaviors entirely around helping others. With each interaction or action you take, pause to think and ask yourself “is there a way I might help another here?” Hold a door for someone, offer your seat, share a smile, give a sincere compliment, show empathy to another, attempt to be more patient or understanding, etc. Your efforts should be in social settings that involve interactions with others (rather than something such as donating to a charity for instance). The goal is to be as thoughtfully prosocial in your interactions throughout the day as possible.
At the beginning of the day, jot down your general mood, feelings, attitude, etc.
Then throughout the day, whenever possible, carry a small notebook with you or make notes in an app on your phone to jot down meaningful encounters or experiences as you attempt to engage in prosocial behaviors.
At the end of the day, again reflect and take notes on how you feel, your general mood, feelings and attitudes, etc.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are unable to engage in prosocial behavior outside of your home due to COVID-19 restrictions/precautions, you are encouraged to engage in such behaviors with your family/people with whom you are sheltering. You may also engage in prosocial behavior with others virtually or through other means (e.g., through video calls, emails, etc…). This assignment will be more meaningful if you are able to engage in-person with acquaintances or strangers, but you can still find ways to make a significant difference to others even if quarantined or sheltering in place.
In a 5-7 slide PowerPoint presentation, not counting title or reference slides:
Summarize your experience. Describe the prosocial behaviors you engaged in, others’ reactions to these behaviors, and your assessment of any changes in mood, attitude, good fortune, or anything else of note you experienced.
Review what you have learned about human behavior in social settings. Connect what you learned or experienced through your day of conscious, prosocial behavior with the terms, concepts, and theories from your research. Integrate at least two academic sources, citing any references used in APA format.
Describe any new insights you gained through this experience about your interactions with others on a daily basis, including any behaviors you wish to change or to continue.
Use the features of PowerPoint to your advantage to communicate your ideas – include pictures, audio recorded narration, speaker’s notes, video, links, etc. as appropriate to enhance your ideas.
Include an APA formatted title slide and reference slide. APA components such as an abstract, headings, etc. are not required since this is a PowerPoint presentation.
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