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Modeling prosocial behavior

I started my day by reading this Memebase post: “22 Loving People Who Restored Our Faith in Humanity.” It’s example after example of people being kind to animals and each other.

After reading it, I felt compelled to reach out to a stranger and do a kindness for them. Being in pandemic lockdown makes it hard to connect with strangers, though. And then I remembered. A few months ago, I received a text from someone whose phone number is just one number off from mine. It read, “Hi number neighbor.” I found the sentiment so delightful, I replied with “LOL! Thanks for that”. This morning, after reading the Memebase post, I texted my number neighbor with this: “Good morning, number neighbor! Regardless of your politics, today is probably going to be a hard day. Wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you, stranger, and sending good thoughts.” My number neighbor replied with, “Thank you I really appreciate it. I hope you stay safe regardless of the outcome.” I wished them the same.

In my Intro Psych course, we’re covering the learning chapter this week. Myers and DeWall (2020) write in that chapter

The good news is that people’s modeling of prosocial (positive, helpful) behaviors can have prosocial effects… Real people who model nonviolent, helpful behavior can also prompt similar behavior in others” (p. 184).

In my online courses I post announcements two or three times a week. Today’s announcement included a link to that Memebase post as well as my text exchange with my number neighbor. I know that the Memebase post prompted me to engage in a bit of prosocial behavior. I hope that the Memebase post and my own prosocial behavior will encourage my students to find a way to do a little prosocial behavior themselves today.

I did an Internet search for “random acts of kindness stories” and “faith in humanity restored” to find some other examples of people doing good things for strangers. There are lots out there. My plan for the rest of the term is to include a link to webpage that features such stories with my beginning-of-the-week announcements along with something that I did for a stranger. In the U.S., regardless of your politics, the coming weeks will likely be a challenge. Modeling prosocial behavior is the least we can do.

Source: macmillan psych community