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The first explanation of human altruism is the empathy altruism hypothesis carried out by Batson He suggested that empathy involves feeling an emotional response that is consistent with another persons emotional state and acting upon this feeling selflessly He believe that witnessing someone in need will create empathetic concern for them therefore motivating the helper to attempt to alleviate the distress of the other person Batson hypothesis suggests that some people are more empathetic than others and this is the reason why some people display altruism and others do not Batson argues that the ability to take someone elses perspective depends on three different aspects that the observer has had a similar experience so have a deeper understanding of how the person in distress feels The observer is attached to the victim for instance they are a family member or friend Or the observer may be instructed by others who imagine what it must be like to be in the needy situation Research for this hypothesis has been carried out by Batson himself who firstly gave a collection of people a placebo drug which he claimed fixed the participants moods He found that despite this belief those who had earlier tested high in empathy were more likely to take the place of Elaine in empathy Who was a confederate receiving electric shocks in another room and screaming from the pain she was receiving Batson carried out further research which showed that manipulating approvaldisproval for helping made no difference to the level of helping amongst the high empathetic participants But it made a big difference to the low empathy participants This then shows that this research supports Batsons hypothesis that people do not help to make themselves feel better but to make other people feel better The criticisms for this theory has also been carried out by Batson In further experiments he found that when the costs of helping were high even highly empathetic people refused
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