Jane Allyn Piliavin- Sociology at UW Madison, bascom graphic

Fall 2002

Sociology 236: Helping, altruism, and community participation

a Bascom Course satisfying the Course B requirement

Prof. Jane Allyn Piliavin
Class Time: MW 2:25-3:40 6112 Social Science
Phones: (O) 262-4344; (H) 233-9090 Office: 2450 Social Science
EMAIL: Jpiliavi@ssc.wisc.edu
Office Hours: MW 4:00-5:00 and by appointment

This course is designed to do three things. First, it is a social psychology course, which will introduce you to the ways social scientists in general, and sociologists and social psychologists in particular, think. Second, it is a writing course designed to prepare you for writing requirements in the rest of your college career and your professional life thereafter. Finally, it is a course on the topic of other-oriented social action: helping, altruism, and community participation. As part of your course requirements you will engage in several forms of volunteering, social action, and community participation and report back to me and the class about it.


(Available at the University Bookstore)

  • Pettigrew, T.F. How to Think Like a Social Scientist. New York: HarperCollins (paper). 1996.
  • Schroeder, D.A., Penner, L. A., Dovidio, J. F., and Piliavin, J. A. The Psychology of Helping and Altruism: Problems and Puzzles. New York: McGraw Hill (paper), 1995.
  • There will also be a packet of outside readings, available in the social science copy center, 6th floor, Social Science Building.

Requirements and evaluation:

There will be no examinations in this course. Attendance is expected except for emergencies or documented ill health. All evaluations will be based on writing, class participation, and oral presentations. Written assignments are designed to be varied and to provide opportunities for revising. There is a total of about 45 pages of writing, both formal and informal (counting rewrites), and one informal oral presentation.

Comparative paper:

This is based on observing two different forms of community participation, such as a public hearing, a neighborhood association meeting, a demonstration/ protest, a political campaign event, a fund-raising event, or a volunteer activity. You will write a paper comparing and contrasting the behavior and talk of actors, and your own feelings, in these two settings, 2-4 pages. This is due on Monday, September 23.

Comments will be made on this paper by the writing fellows, supervised by the professor, and it will be returned by Monday, October 7.

You will then add comparisons and contrasts with initial impressions either of your permanent placement or of another "one time" event. The rewritten paper is due October 16. The first draft, with the comments from your writing fellow, must be turned in with it.

Individual research paper:

Each student will select a topic related to the course content and write an 8-10 page paper due on December 13. If this date is difficult for you, I will be happy to negotiate a somewhat later time, up to our summary date, December 19. Later papers will lead to temporary incompletes. An individual conference to discuss the topic will be scheduled between September 26 and October 4. In the preparation of this paper there will be three or four preliminary steps:

  1. Library exercise: On September 18 class meets in the Memorial Library, Room 443, for instruction on sociological databases such as Sociological Abstracts (Helene Androski). Students will then work in groups to develop a short bibliography and paper on a topic related to community participation, volunteering, political campaign activity, or social action. The group paper is due on October 2. During this process, you should start thinking about a topic for your final paper.
  2. Initial outline and reference list. Each student turns in a tentative topic, described in a paragraph, with an outline and list of references, on October 9. These will be returned with comments one week later. 2-4 pages.
  3. Revised outline and reference list. This is due on October 23, only for those for whom significant changes were seen as necessary. 2-4 pages.
  4. First draft of paper due November 11. 8-10 pages. These will be read by the writing fellows, supervised by the Professor, and be returned by November 25.


From week 6 (September 30) to week 12 (November 11) of the course, students will keep a journal reflecting their social scientific observations during their 2-3 hours of volunteer work in one or possibly two settings. These journals are turned in each Wednesday and returned each following Monday with comments. 1-2 pages per week. These can be handwritten, although typing them in a computer and keeping them filed will help with the final journal summary.

Journal summary:

Due November 25 (week 13). 5-7 pages. Should tie together journal entries, incorporating feedback from instructor, and relate the volunteer experience to sociological imagination, personal growth, readings, and issues discussed in class -- and include a contrast of the volunteer setting(s) with the initial three forms of social participation observed.

Seminar leadership:

Pairs of student will have shared responsibility for leading the discussion in class on one class day. You should read well ahead of your day and prepare interpretive, integrative questions ONE WEEK in advance to pose to the class by e-mail distribution list. The questions should not just march through the readings asking for factual information. It will be in each student's interest to prepare for each session; this way when you are the leader, it will not be such a difficult task.

Group discussions:

On November 25, groups of 3 or 4 students will get together to plan informal oral presentations to the rest of the class on December 9 and 11. In these, which should last about 20 minutes, an analysis is made comparing their different volunteer sites on some sociological or social psychological dimensions.


Grading will be based on the following:

  1. Library paper – 8%.
  2. Comparative paper -- 17%.
  3. Journal summary/contrast paper -- 25%.
  4. Research paper -- 35%.
  5. Participation, including quality of discussion leadership and of final 4-person group discussion -- 7%.
  6. Attendance, number completed and timeliness of submission of all assignments, including journal entries, intermediate steps in research paper, final critical evaluation-- 8%.

Readings and assignments.

Readings must be done by the day indicated:
Days indicated by an * are days on which there will be a student seminar leader for the discussion.

Dates Subjects, Assignments, and Readings
Sept. 4 First class day. Introduction of course and requirements.
Sept. 9


  • SPDP Chapter 1. An introduction to helping and altruism.
  • Pettigrew. Chapter 1. Everybody is a social scientist. Take the quiz at the beginning of the chapter before reading on. Bring your answers to class.

Someone from the Morgridge Center for Public Service, Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, will come and hand out a list of possible volunteer placements. Randy Wallar will be our contact after that regarding placements. His phone and e-mail are 262-5781 and jrwallar@facstaff. wisc.edu. It is essential that you get started on obtaining placements right away. Some placements require interviews and training before you can begin work.

Student Organization Fair -- 5:00 - 8:00 P.M. Great Hall. Go to see about meetings you might attend for one of your events.

Arrange to attend at least one of your two events (neighborhood association, hearing, protest, rally, organization meeting, etc.) this week, if possible.

Sept. 11


  • Pettigrew, Chapter 6. Keeping your levels straight.
  • O'Neill, Michael. 1989. The Third America. Chapter 1. The nonprofit world. pp. 1-19.
  • Knoke, D. and Wood, J.R. 1981. Chapter 1: A theory of voluntary association behavior. pp. 1-29 in Organized for Action: Commitment in voluntary associations. New Brunswick N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.
Sept. 16


  • Pettigrew. Chapter 2. Thinking theoretically.
  • Pettigrew, Chapter 3. In comparison with what? (pp. 37-52; 61-69 only)

    Also two brief articles on programs in support of seniors in the community:
  • Morrow-Howell, N. and Ozawa, M. N. Helping network: Seniors to seniors. 1987. The Gerontologist, 27, pp. 17-20.
  • Milligan, S., Maryland, P., Ziegler, H., and Ward, A. Natural helpers as street health workers among the black urban elderly. 1987. The Gerontologist, 27, 712-715.

    What is wrong with these studies?
Sept. 17 Tuesday. Attend Volunteer Placement Day if you do not yet have a placement. Last chance for setting up volunteer placement.
Sept. 18


  • Berkowitz, B., 1987. Local Heroes. (About people who organize for the betterment of their communities.) Chapter 1, How to build community life, plus one other chapter to be randomly assigned.

Library training day. Meet in Memorial Library, Room 443A. Helene Androski will teach about databases. Do your second observation this week.

Sept. 23

Small groups will attempt to figure out what makes "Local Heroes" tick. What theory can you develop?

Bring your chapter with you!!

Comparative paper first draft due.

Sept. 25*


  • SPDP Chapter 2. The context: when will people help?
  • Latané, B., and Darley, J. 1970. Chapters 5 (37-42) and 7(55-67) in The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? New York: Appleton.
September 30*


  • SPDP Chapter 3. Why do people help? Motives for helping.

Begin community participation / volunteering and writing of journal, one page per week, through week 12 (the week of November 15). Journal is to be handed in each Wednesday, and will be returned with comments on the following Monday. Individual conferences on papers begin. Library exercise due.

October 2*


  • Sober and Wilson, Chapter 7 (pp. 223-248 and notes) and Conclusion (pp. 329-337). In Unto Others.
  • Jane Mansbridge, The rise and fall of self-interest in the explanation of political life, pp. 3-22. In Beyond Self-Interest, Mansbridge, J. (Ed.)
  • Christopher Jencks. Varieties of altruism, pp. 54-67 in same.

    First journal entry due.
Oct. 7*


  • SPDP Chapter 4. The origins of helping and altruism: Are we "compassionate beasts?"
    Sober, E., and Wilson, D.S. 1998. Introduction and Chapter 1, Unto Others. (Pp. 1-26)
  • Martin, G.B., and Clark, R.D., III 1982. Distress crying in infants: Species and peer specificity. Developmental Psychology, 18, 3-9;
  • Matthews, K.A., et al. 1981. "Principles in his nature which interest him in the fortune of others...": The heritability of empathic concern for others. Journal of Personality, 49, 237-247.
Oct. 9


  • Pettigrew, Chapter 4. Searching for causes and changes. Outline of research paper due, with primary references.
Oct. 14 *


  • SPDP Chapter 5. The development of altruism and helping.
  • Faves, R.A., et al. 1989. Effects of rewards on children's prosocial motivation: A socialization study. Developmental Psychology, 25, 509-515;
  • Smith, C.L. et al. 1979. Children's causal attributions regarding help giving. Child Development, 50, 203-210.
Oct. 15*


  • SPDP Chapter 6. And now for something a little different: Who helps and why?
  • Latane, B. and Dabbs, J.M. 1975. Sex, group size and helping in three cities. Sociometry, 18, 180-194.

    Outline returned with comments and suggestions for rewriting. Revised comparative paper due.
Oct. 21 *


  • Carlo, G., Eisenberg, N., Troyer, D., Switzer, G., and Speer, A. 1991. The altruistic personality: In what contexts is it apparent? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 450-458.
  • Shotland, R.L., and Straw, M. 1976. Bystander response to an assault: When a man attacks a woman. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 990-999;
  • Wilson, J.P. 1976. Motivation, modeling, and altruism: A person X situation analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 1078-1086.
Oct. 22 *


  • SPDP Chapter 7. Help wanted? Help seeking: Actions and reactions.
  • Poppendieck, J. 1998 Chapter 8, "Charity and dignity" (pp. 230-255) in Sweet Charity.
  • Hochschild, A. R. 1979. Emotion work, feeling rules, and social structure. American Journal of Sociology, 85, 551-575
  • Stein, M. 1989. Gratitude and attitude: A note on emotional welfare. Social Psychology Quarterly, 52, 242-248.

Rewrite of outline is due, if extensive changes were suggested.

Oct. 28


  • Pettigrew, Chapter 5. Sampling, selecting, and socializing.

One of four articles on rural-urban differences (These will be distributed -- not in packet.):

  • Amato, P.R. 1983. Helping behavior in urban and rural environments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 571-586;
  • Levine, R. V., et al. 1994. Helping in 36 U.S. Cities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 69-82;
  • Steblay, N.M. 1987. Helping behavior in rural and urban environments: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 102, 346-356;
  • Amato, P.R. 1993. Urban-rural differences in helping friends and family members. Social Psychology Quarterly, 56, 249-262.
Oct.30 *

Social movements. How are these like and unlike volunteer activities? Is this helping?


  • Friedman, D. and McAdam, D. 1992. Collective identity and activism: Networks, choices and the life of a social movement. pp. 156-173 in Morris, A.D., and Mueller, C.M. Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Oliver, P. 1984. "If you don't do it, nobody else will": Active and token contributors to local collective action. American Sociological Review, 49, 601-610.
Nov. 4*


  • SPDP, Chapter 8. Cooperation and collective helping.
  • Marwell, G., and Ames, R.E. 1981. Economists free ride, does anyone else? Journal of Public Economics, 15, 295-310.
Nov. 6*


  • Pettigrew, Chapter 7. Thinking in systems terms.
  • Poppendieck, J. 1998. "Introduction" (pp. 1-19) and "Conclusion" (pp. 288-318), Sweet Charity.
Nov. 11 First draft of paper due, 8-10 pages. There will be a video or two.
Nov. 13 *

Satisfaction and dissatisfaction among volunteers.


  • Clary, E.G., Snyder, M. , Ridge, R.D., Copeland, J., Stukas, A.A., Haugen, J, and Miene, P. 1998. Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1516-1530.
  • Wharton, C.S. 1991. Why can't we be friends: Expectations versus experiences in the volunteer role. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 20, 79-106. (long but easy reading)
  • Butterworth, V.A., Simmons, R.G., and Schimmer, M. 1993. When altruism fails: reactions of unrelated bone marrow donors when the recipient dies. Omega, 26, 161-173.
Nov. 18 *

Some impacts of helping in volunteers and social service workers.


  • Stukas, Arthur A., E. Gil Clary, and Mark Snyder. 1999a. "The effects of ‘mandatory volunteerism' on intentions to volunteer." Psychological Science, 10: 59-64
  • Koeske, G.F., and Kelly, T. 1995. The impact of over-involvement on burnout and job satisfaction. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 65, 282-292.
  • Mickler, S.E., and Rosen, S. 1994. Burnout in spurned medical caregivers and the impact of job expectancy training. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 2110-2131.
Nov. 20*

Long term effects of volunteering.


  • Uggen, Christopher and Jennifer Janikula. 1999. Volunteerism and arrest in the transition to adulthood. Social Forces. 78:331-362.
  • Van Willingham, Marieke. 2000. "Differential benefits of volunteering across the life course". Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences. 55B: S1-S11.
  • Piliavin, Jane. (in press) "Doing well by doing good: Benefits for the benefactor." to appear in Keyes, Corey Lee M. & Jon Haidt (Eds.). Flourishing: The Positive Personality and the Life Well Lived. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Nov. 25

Individual papers relating volunteer experience to sociological imagination, personal growth, readings and issues discussed in class -- 5-7 pages are due. Should reflect feedback given throughout the class on weekly journal entries. No readings.
First draft of paper returned with comments and suggestions for rewriting. Group meetings to prepare presentations for next week.

Nov. 27 NO CLASS.
***** Happy Thanksgiving *****
Dec. 2*

Whistle-blowers. Why do they do it? What happens to them? How can it be done more effectively? Is this helping?


  • Jos, P.H., Tompkins, M.E., and Hays, S. W. 1989. In praise of difficult people: A portrait of the committed whistleblower. Public Administration Review, Nov/Dec, 552-561.
  • Greenberger, D.B., Miceli, M.P., and Cohen, D.J. 1987. Oppositionists and group norms: The reciprocal influence of whistle-blowers and co-workers. Journal of Business Ethics, 6, 527-542.
  • Near, J.P. and Micelli, M.P. 1995. Effective whistle-blowing. Academy of Management Review. 20:679-708.
Dec. 4


  • Pettigrew, Chapter 8. Try out your healthy skepticism. SPDP.
  • Chapter 9. Looking backward, looking ahead.

Dec. 9 Informal group presentations comparing and contrasting volunteer experiences and experiences across individuals, and comparing volunteering with other community participation observations.
Dec. 11 Group presentations continue. No readings. Party.
Final research paper due December 13, 10-12 pages. You may arrange with me for a later date if this is difficult for you.

Summary schedule of special events and due dates for written materials, Sociology 236, Fall, 2002

Meetings in places other than classroom:

  • September 18, Monday. Library exercise day. Meet in Memorial Library, Room 443a.
  • September 17, Tuesday. Volunteer fair. Great Hall. Go if you do not yet have a placement.
  • September 26 - October 4. Conferences on research papers. My office.

Due dates for written work:

  • September 23 Draft of comparative paper due
  • September 30 Library exercise paper due
  • Weeks of September 30---> November 11 (journal entries each week on Wednesday)
  • October 9 Outline for research paper ---> returned October 18
  • October 16 Revision of comparative paper due
  • [October 23 Outline revision due, if needed]
  • November 11 First draft of research paper due
  • November 25 Journal summary/contrast paper --> graded December 11
  • December 13 Revised research paper due
  • * * * * * * * *


Questions? Comments? Please contact jane.piliavin@wisc.edu

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