Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why Do People Behave Nicely?

Social psychologists -- and to some degree, most people in general -- seem to have a fascination with people who behave anything but nicely. Take all the reality television shows for instance. Is there one where people do nice things? Not really. It appears that the television industry tries to find the biggest jackasses to put on the boob-tube, and the public can't seem to get enough of them. From the proliferation of reality TV shows, it doesn't appear that there is any end to the jackasses. But why do we have such a fascination with people gone wrong?

Discover magazine has an article that throws a different spin on social psychology. According to psychologist Joachim Krueger, there may be just as much to learn about human behaviour from studying people that do good things. Why do some people stop to help? Why do some people thing of others before themselves? If you listen to what social psychologists have had to say about people, based on their studies so far, you're liable to think that the human race has been nothing but a disappointment. We tend to act irrationally, bending easily to the herd mentality or to authority. The truth is probably in neither extremes. We're most likely neither good, nor bad. We're simply very complex creatures. In given situations, we have the capacity to exhibit good and bad behaviour. Most of the bad behaviour comes from our acting out of self interest more than anything else. Perhaps that is our natural state -- to think of ourselves first -- yet we find ourselves in groups, in societies, where motivation from self interest is frowned by the collective. It seems a constant challenge to transcend our limitations of who we are to become something we aspire -- a greater person that we have ascribed group-interest behaviour to.

Related reading:

1 comment:

  1. to my experience people love them most & to be loved. they try to behave nicely to get love.
    it is true for a new relationship, but when it is old, people do not think much as they feel they got all the love from opposite one. Then only we can see one person to its full.


Next Previous Home