Analytical Essay: Link Between Helping and Prosocial Behaviour and the Use of Qualitative Analysis

  • Words 2254
  • Pages 5
Download PDF

In this essay the link between helping and prosocial behaviour and the use of qualitative analysis is explored and discussed. Qualitive research is the use of descriptive and narrative research methods to obtain and understand why or how a behaviour happens, in a certain situation; one example of this is, a study by Cotney and Banerjee (2017), addresses how kindness can promote well-being and asks, ‘why are people kind?’ the paper indicates that kindness is defined as a prosocial act that can be motivated by putting other individuals needs and emotions before your own, even if there is no benefit to gain in a personal level from doing so. Helping and prosocial behaviour tie in very closely together; helping behaviour is defined as a voluntary action that is planned to help another individual, the helping behaviour can be done with a reward regarded or disregarded as the original intent (Poepsel & Schroeder, 2019). Prosocial behaviour is the intent to help other individuals, by showing concern for their rights, welfare or feelings (Cherry, 2010). There are three types of prosocial behaviour, pro-active, reactive and altruistic. Each of these are ways of helping other individuals, proactive means that they help others for self-beneficial reasons. Reactive is the means of helping others in response to individual needs and altruistic means helping others without any personal gain (Cherry, 2010).

Qualitative data describes the situation that is being experimented and thus can only be observed, never measured; it would be used to measure helping and prosocial behaviour as it gives the researcher a chance to observe the behaviour (Martí-Vilar et al., 2019). Researchers can study the individuals in their normal surroundings, in order to understand the different types of means (Denzin and Lincoln 1994). Qualitative research has various types of methods to be able to develop a deep understanding of how an individual may observe their own social realities or react to social situation, these include; ethnography, narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory, focus group and case study (Bhandari, 2020).

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

There are three types of helping and prosocial behaviour; proactive behaviour is a way of acting in effect of a forthcoming situation, rather than reacting for example the Boduszek et al., (2019) study was a prosocial video game named Jesse, its intent was to increase the affective and cognitive responsiveness towards victims of intimate partner violence among children and adolescents. This was a proactive step taken to try and create a helping and prosocial behaviour in the children and adolescents. Proactive refers to taking control of a situation such as putting the game Jesse in place within the schools and making early changes, before intimate partner violence happens rather than waiting for something to happen (Boduszek et al., 2019).

Reactive means that the individual does not take initiative or make strategic decisions in life. These are actions that are performed in response to individual needs, for example, focus group one participant two picked up a drunken teenage girl and took her home, she felt that this was an automatic response and carried out this behaviour without thinking of the positive or negative effects of helping and prosocial behaviour (University of Ulster 2019), (Cherry, 2010).

Altruistic means types of actions that are taken in that are supposed to help other individuals with no expectations of personal gain. Helping and prosocial behaviour underlies examples of altruism, individuals may engage in such apparently selfless acts of helping and prosocial behaviours for selfish reasons. However, an individual might engage in altruism in order to gain the approval of others or to feel good about themselves (Batson & Powell, 2000).

Since helping and prosocial behaviour is described as the intent to help others (Cherry, 2010) and by using qualitive methods in prosocial and helping behaviours a focus group was carried out to study how multiple individuals would have acted in the same social situation. From the University of Ulster study focus groups, multiple individuals have stated that if they are in a group or do not feel threatened, then they are more likely to help an individual in need whether that be for their own benefit or not (Ulster University, 2019).

Qualitative method uses descriptive and narrative style, this research could have certain benefit to the researcher as they could then analyse qualitative reports in order to get a clear look at the types of knowledge that may otherwise be unavailable, this therefore leads them to gaining new types of insight; for example, when focus group one talks about different helping and prosocial behaviour based on the persons gender you may be helping (Ulster University, 2019).

To further understand helping and prosocial behaviour focus groups are used in qualitative research. A focus group discussion is often used as a qualitative research method approach this is to gain a better understanding of social behaviour (Whitaker, 1997). A focus group is likely to generate the type of data required, as the discussion within the group is designed to gather helpful information with a moderator set in place to help guide the discussion. This can then lead to a better understanding for the researcher’s perspective of the group discussing the topic and can provide a better understanding of the situation; similarly, to the moderator in Focus Group two (University of Ulster 2019).

In a focus group study (University of Ulster 2019) the type of analysis can be difficult to understand and a particular type of knowledge in this area is necessary in order to get the correct results, for example when the social psychology lecture put together three focus groups and asked ‘under what circumstances do you think people are more likely to help other people?’ this question was given to the three focus groups made up by second year psychology students, who have prior knowledge in this area via lectures and independent research.

The answers to this question was although different, explained how individuals felt about helping and prosocial behaviour and how and under what circumstances would they help. In all groups the participants talked about helping and prosocial behaviour acts they had carried out in order to help other individuals in need. All three groups came to the consensus that an individual such as themselves would be more likely to act with a helping and prosocial behaviour if they were in a group situation and would be less likely to carry out helping and prosocial behaviour if they were alone. However, this has already been proven wrong with and experiment by Darley and Latane back in 1968 called the ‘bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibility’; where it was recorded that an individual is less likely to help or report an issue in a room full of others (Darley & Latane, 1968).

An example given in the focus group was an individual stopping to help another individual who was laying on the side of a dual carriageway. The group discussed that they would be more likely to stop if they felt safe, such as with another individual or if it was an individual of the same gender they were stopping to help (Ulster University, 2019). If the individual has a caring personality this would indicate that they would be more inclined to stop and help the individual in need (Bekkers & Ottoni‐Wilhelm, 2016). If an individual has a personality that thrives to help others or needs to do something to feel good about themselves, they will try to carry out a helping and prosocial behaviour; dissimilar of an individual who is very self-centred or focused (Narcissist or Just Self-Centered? 4 Ways to Tell, 2015). However, if an individual has a lot of empathy towards people in need, they would also be more likely to stop than an individual who holds very little empathy towards others (Markman., 2012). These are also factors that could make the difference in an individual showing helping and prosocial behaviour and those who do not.

There are also negative aspects of the use of qualitative methods, such as not allowing the individuals being interviewed or questions to be anonymous this may lead the individual to give a different answer as they may not feel comfortable in expressing their honest opinion openly. Another reason that qualitative methods can have a negative impact is they do not have a definitive answer and as such can be interpreted incorrectly when either writing the report or from the perspective of an individual reading it.

The use of qualitative methods can clarify helping and prosocial behaviour by exploring if individuals who have had no prior contact with each other have similar answers to the same helping and prosocial questions asked. As helping and prosocial behaviour is difficult to measure in a numerical format as it is an action. By allowing the participants to answer freely and give statements on their own personal recollections of a helping and prosocial behaviour, this will allow for a better understanding of why an individual may carry out a helping and prosocial behaviour. This can also display what factors are needed for a helping and prosocial behaviour to occur.

This then allows the use of qualitative methods, such as focus groups to help the researchers to gather the correct data and display it in a way that can clarify each individual’s behaviour, in a clear and precise way. As seen in the helping and prosocial focus group study carried out by Ulster University (University of Ulster 2019), where a discussion that was recorded had taken place, this allows the researcher to analyses the data in a way that allows further understanding of how individuals will go out of their way to help and their own reasoning behind it.

The aim of this essay was to discuss qualitative research methods and how these could be applied to further the understanding of helping and prosocial behaviour. In the essay it is pointed out that qualitative research methods are better geared towards situations that cannot be explained in numerical data or by preforming an experiment the same way multiple times. There is major criticism of qualitative research due to the validity and reliability; (Noble & Smith, 2015) it can therefore be difficult to be able to apply the conventual standards. It is impossible to correctly replicate the qualitative studies accurately; although Ulster University had researched three different focus groups that are all asked the same question on helping and prosocial behaviour they all have different answers and life experiences to refer to this shows that the focus groups cannot be replicated accurately.

The collecting of the data by the research can also be difficult as individuals may use others personal recollections and experiences to help answer questions in the form of focus groups or questionnaires, this would then not valid the data collected, due to the issue that information may have been passed on incorrectly to the researcher. Since behaviour is not something that can be easily replicated in the form of an experiment, using the qualitative methods to obtain information of how different an individual would react or have reacted in certain social situations, allow for a much better understanding of how helping and prosocial behaviour are intertwined.

Qualitative research offers the researcher numerous options to gather their own data using different tools. It can be highly reliable as the researcher can collect their own data and get it cross check for the validity of their data by another researcher (Middleton, 2019).

Finally, qualitative research is a useful way of gathering data for when or how an individual helps others or shows helping and prosocial behaviour. The way the questions are worded or asked can also he of high importance, as opened questions give the individual more opportunity to answer freely. As for the data to be fully rounded personality testing should also be conducted to find the individuals personality, this could be carried out to allow the researcher to consider the other factors that could be considered when reporting the results of focus groups and other qualitative measures.


  1. Batson, C. D., & Powell, A. A. (2003). Altruism and Prosocial Behavior. Handbook of Psychology.
  2. Bekkers, R., & Ottoni‐Wilhelm, M. (2016). Principle of Care and Giving to Help People in Need. European Journal of Personality, 30(3), 240–257.
  3. Bhandari, P. (2020, June 19). What is Qualitative Research? | Approaches, Methods & Examples. Scribbr.
  4. Boduszek, D., Debowska, A., Jones, A. D., Ma, M., Smith, D., Willmott, D., Trotman Jemmott, E., Da Breo, H., & Kirkman, G. (2019). Prosocial video game as an intimate partner violence prevention tool among youth: A randomised controlled trial. Computers in Human Behavior, 93, 260–266.
  5. Cherry, K. (2010, December 30). The Basics of Prosocial Behavior. Verywell Mind; Verywellmind.
  6. Cotney, J. L., & Banerjee, R. (2017). Adolescents’ Conceptualizations of Kindness and its Links with Well-being: A Focus Group Study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(2), 599–617.
  7. Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4, Pt.1), 377–383.
  8. Markman, A. (2012, May 22). Why Empathy Makes You More Helpful. Psychology Today.
  9. Martí-Vilar, M., Corell-García, L., & Merino-Soto, C. (2019). Systematic review of prosocial behavior measures. Revista de Psicología, 37(1), 349–377.
  10. Middleton, F. (2019, July 3). Reliability vs Validity in Research | Differences, Types and Examples. Scribbr.
  11. Narcissist or Just Self-Centered? 4 Ways to Tell. (2015, Autumn 9). Psychology Today.
  12. Noble, H., & Smith, J. (2015). Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research. Evidence Based Nursing, 18(2), 34–35.
  13. Poepsel, D. L., & Schroeder, D. A. (2019, June 28). 13.5 Helping and Prosocial Behavior. Openpress.Usask.Ca; University of Saskatchewan Open Press.
  14. Whitaker, E. (1997). UCSF Guides: Qualitative Research Guide: Focus Groups. Guides.Ucsf.Edu.


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.