Responsibility and Inclusive Caring in Altruistic Helping and Group Violence (Part II)

Responsibility and Inclusive Caring in Altruistic Helping and Group Violence (Part II)


The first part of the presentation will look at research on helping behavior in emergencies, when someone is suddenly in pain or danger. It will focus on how circumstances and personal characteristics lead witnesses or “bystanders” to feel more or less responsible for the welfare of another, and on how everyday social rules can inhibit helping. The second part will provide an analysis of the origins of genocidal violence. It will consider social conditions like difficult life conditions, cultural characteristics like the devaluation of another group, the psychological processes that arise and generate violence, the evolution of increasing violence by perpetrators and the role of bystanders. The third part will describe “positive socialization” of children in the home and in “caring schools” required for the development of valuing others’ welfare and altruistic action, and for the capacity to oppose destructive policies and practices by one’s group.

  • Dialogue 5
    9 sessions
  • October 4, 1995
    Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
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Ervin Staub

Ervin Staub is Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He received his Ph.D. at Stanford University and taught at Harvard University. His work has focused on caring, helping, altruism and passivity in the face of others' needs. His books on this topic are Positive social behavior and morality: Vol. 1. Social and personal influences, 1978; Vol. 2. Socialization and development, 1979 and two coedited volumes (Development and Maintenance of Prosocial Behavior: International Perspectives on Positive Morality, 1984; and Social and Moral Values: Individual and Societal Perspectives, 1989). He also edited Personality: Current Issues and Basic Research, 1980. Since the late 70's he has also studied human destructiveness like genocide and ethnic violence (The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence, and Patriotism in the Life of Individuals and Nations, in press.) and youth violence. His article, “The Psychology of Bystanders, Perpetrators and Heroic Helpers,” won the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Prize of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. He has applied his work to public issues and concerns (e.g., police violence, racism, the war in Iraq, child rearing) in articles, lectures, workshops, teacher training, interviews with journalists, and radio and T.V. appearances.