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This study investigated gender and locality on altruistic behavior among adults. A total of 80 participants comprising 40 males (20 rural and 20 urban), 40 females (20 rural and 20 urban) were used. Participants were randomly selected from 3 classes within the department of psychology, Ebonyi state university. The participants who were within the age range of 25-55 years have a mean age of 41 years. Two hypothesis were formulated for this study. A 20 tem questionnaire designed to measure-altruistic behavior was used. A 2 x 2 factorial design was adopted based on 2 levels of gender as factor; male/female, and 2 level of locality as a factor; Rural/Urban areas. Hence two-way ANOVA – F Test was applied as a statistical test to analyze the data. However, the findings showed no significant effect of gender on altruistic behavior [F (1,96) = 1.13, P>.05]. There was a significant effect of locality [F (1,96) = 67.95 <.01]. Those in the rural area were found to have higher level of altruism than those in the Urban areas. There was no interaction effect of gender and locality on altruistic behavior [F (1,96) = 34.92 >.05]. The findings were discussed in relation to the literature reviewed and recommendations were also made.



Background to the Study

Altruism is a voluntary help fullness that is motivated by concern about the responsibility of personal reward (MidlarskyKahana 1944).

Altruism as a prosocial behavior is voluntary action that benefits another person. Prosocial behavior can include; comforting, helping, rescuing sharing, and co-operating, (Elsenberg 1992). In general, prosocial children have parents who are nuturant and supportive, often providing a model of prosocial behavior Zahn and Smith (1992). For instance individual who were active in the civil right movement during the 1950’s and 1960’s were likely to have parents who had vigorously worked for social cases in previous decades (Elsenberg 1992). Batson (1995) aggress that altruism is often selfishly motivated. However, people are sometimes purely altruistic and not the least but selfish. Batson (1995) proposes that we often help other people because we experience empathy, which means that we feel the same pain, suffering, or other emotion that someone else feels for example, you may feel empathy for a friend who did not get the job he hoped for.

For altruism, the degree of familiarity is crucial—and agents act most of the time in a self-interested manner only because they are familiar mostly with their own original sensations than with the original sensations of others. Obviously, there is a stronger motive to help a stranded person if the person happens to be a close acquaintance rather than, ceteris paribus, a distant associate. And man is more motivated to help, after himself, the ones who live in the same house with him than “the greater part of other people”.

After himself, the members of his own family, those who usually live in the same house with him, his parents, his children, his brothers and sisters, are naturally the objects of his warmest affections. They are naturally and usually the persons upon whose happiness or misery his conduct must have the greatest influence. He is more habituated to sympathize with them. He knows better how every thing is likely to affect them, and his sympathy with them is more precise and determinate, than it can be with the greater part of other people. It approaches nearer, in short, to what he feels for himself (Smith (1976) p. 219).

Are women more altruistic than men? Previous research suggests so. For example, in the US in 1991, during a recession, women increased their philanthropic giving by 2.4 percent, while men decreased theirs by over 20 percent (Mixer, 1993). It has been shown that women typically give more than men to charity (Breeze and Thornton, 2006; Piper and Schnepf, 2008; Mesch et al., 2011). Social role theorists have also argued that women are expected to be communal and unselfish, while men are expected to be agentic and independent (Eagly, 1987; Williams and Best, 1990; Eagly, 2009), and that these differential expectations affect work performance. For example, when women are perceived to be not sufficiently altruistic, they are less likely to be hired, promoted, paid fairly, and given responsibilities in their jobs(Heilman and Chen, 2005; Heilman and Okimoto, 2007).

To explore gender differences in altruistic behaviour, experimental economists typically turn to the aseptic setting of controlled laboratory experiments using the Dictator Game (DG). In the DG one player acts in the role of dictator and the other one in the role of receiver. Dictators are given a certain amount of money and are asked how much, if any, they want to give to the receiver. Receivers have no choice and only get what the dictators decide to give.

Since dictators have no incentives to give money, a payoff-maximizing dictator would donate nothing. Dictators’ donations are thus taken as a measure of individual’s general altruistic tendencies (Brañas-Garza, 2006, 2007; Charness and Gneezy, 2008; Engel, 2011; Franzen and Pointner, 2013; Peysakhovich et al., 2014; Rand et al., 2016). Several studies have found that, on average, women give more than men in DG experiments (Andreoni and Vesterlund, 2001; Boschini et al., 2014; Capraro and Marcelletti, 2014; Capraro et al., 2014; Capraro, 2015; Dickinson and Tiefenthaler, 2002; Dreber et al., 2013, 2014; Dufwenberg and Muren, 2006; Eckel and Grossman, 1998; Houser and Schunk, 2009; Kettner and Ceccato, 2014; Rand et al., 2016). See Bolton and Katok (1995) for a null result, although using an extrememly small sample. However, there are also critical exceptions. In his meta-analysis of 616 DG experiments, Engel (2011) found that women are only marginally significantly more altruistic than men.

Interestingly, Cappelen et al. (2015) and Carpenter et al. (2008) compared student to representative samples and found gender differences in the student samples but not in the representative samples, which led them to conclude that gender differences in DG altruism, if existing, may be domain-specific. Here we contribute to the aforementioned literature by exploring gender differences in altruistic behaviour among Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) workers living in the US. AMT is an interesting platform to study gender differences in altruistic behaviour because AMT workers, although less representative than national probability samples (e.g., Asians are overrepresented and Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented), are more representative than student samples (Berinsky et al., 2012; Paolacci and Chandler, 2014; Shapiro et al., 2013).

Moreover, numerous experiments have shown that data gathered on AMT are of no less quality than data gathered on the standard physical lab (Arechar et al., 2018; Horton et al., 2011; Mason and Suri, 2012; Paolacci et al., 2010; Paolacci and Chandler, 2014). Understanding gender differences in expectations of altruistic behaviour is relevant because people often make decisions based on their beliefs about others’ behaviour. Thus, a mismatch between expectations and behaviour may create suboptimal outcomes. For example, in a family context, the production of human capital for children requires both mothers’ and fathers’ inputs (e.g., time for playing, reading to the child). If fathers expect mothers to be more willing to spend time on producing health and skills for the child, fathers may invest less time in the production of human capital than mothers.

However, when fathers’ expectations do not match with the actual behaviour of mothers, parental investment may result in suboptimal outcomes for their children and, consequently, for the family as a whole. mAlthough social psychologists have repeatedly found that women are expected to be more altruistic than men and are punished more than men when failing to act altruistically in a variety of contexts (Eagly, 1987, 2009; Heilman and Chen, 2005; Heilman and Okimoto, 2007; Piliavin and Charng, 1990; Williams and Best, 1990), this question has been largely neglected by experimental economists. We are aware of a handful of studies eliciting participants’ beliefs about the level of altruism (Aguiar et al., 2009; Dufwenberg and Gneezy, 2000; Delavande and Zafar, 2015; Capraro and Kuilder, 2016), but only one of them looked at gender differences: Aguiar et al. (2009), using a student sample, found that women are expected to be more altruistic than men, but only by other women The fact that women are expected to be more altruistic than men may explain why they are punished to a larger extent than men when they fail to act altruistically (Heilman and Chen, 2005; Heilman and Okimoto, 2007). Moreover, over-expecting communal behaviour from women may in turn lead to labor segregation, with women being offered predominantly less competitive and less paid jobs (Grimshaw and Rubery, 2001; Aguiar et al., 2009).

The researcher mentioned that altruism is often selfish motivated, specifically, we may help other people for two major selfish reasons:

  1. We want to avoid the personal pain of seeing someone suffer or else the guilt of not helping someone in distress.
  2. We want to share vicariously the joy that someone feels when his or her life improves. Notice, then that these reasons represent two different kinds selfishness, the first avoids personal pain and the second seeks out personal pleasure. Batson primary contribution is the research in altruism is that he has demonstrated how people can be altruistic when their empathy is roused, even when neither the “avoiding personal pain” nor the “seeking vicarious joy hypothesis can operate.”
    Altruistic people were likely to come from families who encourage their children to think how their own action would have consequences for other people. This focus seems likely to encourage compassion. The parents themselves also served as model of altruistic behaviors. They encourage their children to ignore social class, race, and religion in choosing their friends. As a result, these same children grew into adult who could appreciate the similarities that bind all humans to one another. They are less likely to emphasize the kind of boundaries that separate “as” from “them”

Finally, it is obvious that we can be altruistic for a variety of reasons, we can be altruistic because we want to avoid personal pain and guilty, we are sometimes be altruistic because we want to experience vicarious joy. However, we can also be altruistic when neither of these more selfish rationales is relevant. Instead we help other people because we feel a bond with them. Our empathy is aroused, we want to reduce their distress and improve their lives.

In view of the above, the researcher want to investigate whether such factors like gender and locality will affect altruistic behavior among adults.

Statement of the Problem

Often times, it perturbs me why we should not be our brothers keeper. However, I noticed that some individuals find it difficult to render help to others while very few see it as a way of life. Whenever I travel to the village, I noticed high degree of love from rural dwellers which I find difficult to see in the Urban areas. This gives me worry in addition to this, there is always an argument that males renders prosocial help more than female. In other to give answers to this opinion and also to know how much we help ourselves, the present study was born. It came to the pick when I asked why people find it difficult to help strangers, accident victims etc.Therefore, the following problems would be addressed in this study.

  1. Will gender significantly influence altruistic behavior among Adults?
  2. Will locality significantly influence altruistic behavior among Adults.

Purpose of the Study

The aims of this study are as follows;

  1. To determine whether gender will significantly influence altruistic behavior among Adults.
  2. To determine whether locality will significantly influence altruistic behavior among Adults.

Operational Definition of Terms

Gender: This refers to the cultural and social characteristics that distinguish woman from men in the society.

Locality: This refers to the external surrounding within which an organism (human) lives, or external factor that affect the organism development of behavior. This can also be defined into urban and rural locality.

Urban locality: These are people who have resided in the city from birth or 6years after birth.

Rural Locality:  These are people who are born and brought up in the rural area of village.

Adults: These are group of individual who are 20 years and above

Altruistic behaviour: This is expressing a selfless character.



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