Anti-social behaviours are actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. Many people also label behaviour which is deemed contrary to prevailing norms for social conduct as anti-social behaviour. The term is especially used in British English.
Anti-social is frequently used, incorrectly, to mean either "nonsocial" or "unsociable". The words are not synonyms.
The American Psychiatric Association, in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, diagnoses persistent anti-social behaviour as antisocial personality disorder. The World Health Organization includes it in the International Classification of Diseases as "dissocial personality disorder". A pattern of persistent anti-social behaviours can also be present in children and adolescents diagnosed with conduct problems, including conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder under the DSM-5.
Intent and discrimination may determine both pro- and anti-social behavior. Infants may act in seemingly anti-social ways and yet be generally accepted as too young to know the difference before the age of 4 or 5. Berger states that parents should teach their children that "emotions need to be regulated, not depressed". Studies have shown that in children between ages 13–14 who bully or show aggressive behavior towards others exhibits anti-social behaviors in their early adulthood. There are strong statistical relationships that shows this significant association between childhood aggressiveness and anti-social behaviors. Analyses saw that 20% of these children who exhibit anti-social behaviors at later ages had court appearances and police contact as a result of their behavior.
Many of the studies regarding the media's influence on anti-social behaviour have been deemed inconclusive. There has been a correlation found between the number of TV hours watched and amounts of aggressive behaviour. A study was conducted that observed the effects of violent and non-violent films on Belgian and American male juvenile delinquents. The results stated that aggression increased in some measures due to the violent films, although only in those who were naturally high in aggression. Violence, racism, sexism, and other anti-social acts are attributed to things such as genetic predisposition and violence in the home. Some reviews have found strong correlations between aggression and the viewing of violent media, while others find little evidence to support their case. The only unanimously accepted truth regarding anti-social behaviour is that parental guidance carries an undoubtedly strong influence; providing children with brief negative evaluations of violent characters helps to reduce violent effects in the individual.
A recent genome-wide analysis of antisocial behavior in a large combined sample has shown that a large number of genetic variants of low individual effect play a role in antisocial behavior. Moreover, this study showed that several variants show gender-specific effects on antisocial behavior in males and females.
Intervention and treatment
An individual's age at intervention is a strong predictor of the effectiveness of a given treatment. The specific kinds of anti-social behaviours exhibited, as well as the magnitude of those behaviours also impact how effective a treatment is for an individual.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is a highly effective, evidence-based therapy, in relation to anti-social behaviour. This type of treatment focuses on changing how individuals think and act in social situations. Individuals with particularly aggressive anti-social behaviours tend to have maladaptive social cognitions, including hostile attribution bias, which lead to negative behavioural outcomes. CBT has been found to be more effective for older children and less effective for younger children.Problem-solving skills training (PSST) is a type of CBT that aims to recognize and correct how an individual thinks and consequently behaves in social environments. This training provides steps to assist people in obtaining the skill to be able to evaluate potential solutions to problems occurring outside of therapy and learn how to create positive solutions to avoid physical aggression and resolve conflict.
Behavioural parent training
Behavioural parent training (BPT) or parent management training (PMT), focuses on changing how parents interact with their children and equips them with ways to recognize and change their child's maladaptive behaviour in a variety of situations. BPT assumes that certain types of interactions between parents and children may reinforce a child's antisocial behaviours, therefore the aim of BPT is to teach the parent effective skills to better manage and communicate with their child. BPT has been found to be most effective for younger children under the age of 12. Researchers credit the effectiveness of this treatment at younger ages due to the fact that younger children are more reliant on their parents. BPT is used to treat children with conduct problems, but also for children with ADHD.
In severe cases, medication will be administered to control behaviour, however it is not a suitable substitute for therapy.Lithium carbonate has been proven to be effective medication for people with anti-social behaviour, reducing aggression, threatening behaviour, bullying, fighting and temper outbursts.
In the UK
Main article: Anti-social behaviour order
An anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is a civil order made against a person who has been shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. The orders, introduced in the United Kingdom by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, were designed to criminalize minor incidents that would not have warranted prosecution before.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines anti-social behaviour as acting in a manner that has "caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household" as the perpetrator. There has been debate concerning the vagueness of this definition.
In a survey conducted by University College London during May 2006, the UK was thought by respondents to be Europe's worst country for anti-social behaviour, with 76% believing Britain had a "big or moderate problem".
Current legislation governing anti-social behaviour in the UK is the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which received Royal Assent in March 2014 and came into enforcement in October 2014. This replaces tools such as the ASBO with 6 streamlined tools designed to make it easier to act on anti-social behaviour.
Anti-social behaviour can have a negative effect and impact on Australian communities and their perception of safety. The Western Australia Police force define antisocial behaviour as any behaviour that annoys, irritates, disturbs or interferes with a persons’ ability to go about their lawful business. In Australia, many different acts are classed as anti-social behaviour such as, misuse of public space, disregard for community safety, disregard for personal well-being, acts directed at people, graffiti, protests, liquor offences and drunk driving. It has been found that it is very common for Australian adolescents to engage in different levels of anti-social behaviour. A survey was conducted in 1996 in New South Wales, Australia, of 441, 234 secondary school students in years 7 to 12 about their involvement in anti-social activities. 38.6 percent reported intentionally damaging or destroying someone else's property, 22.8 percent admitted to having received or selling stolen goods and close to 40 percent confessed to attacking someone with the idea of hurting them. The Australian community are encouraged to report any behaviour of concern and play a vital role assisting police in reducing anti-social behaviour. One study conducted in 2016 established how perpetrators of anti-social behaviour may not actually intend to cause offense. The study examined anti-social behaviours (or microaggressions) within the LGBTIQ community on a university campus. The study established how many members felt that other people would often commit anti-social behaviours, however there was no explicit suggestion of any maliciousness behind these acts. Rather, it was just that the offenders were naive to impact of their behaviour.
The Western Australia Police force uses a three step strategy to deal with antisocial behaviour.
- Prevention – This action uses community engagement, intelligence, training and development and the targeting of hotspots, attempting to prevent unacceptable behaviour from occurring.
- Response – A timely and effective response to antisocial behaviour is vital. Police provide ownership, leadership and coordination to apprehend offenders.
- Resolution – Identifying the underlying issues that cause anti-social behaviour are determined and resolved with the help of the community and offenders are successfully prosecuted.
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We donate more when fatalities are high but not when # of survivors is high - Donations to the Orlando shooting victims and families has been quite large. As recent research has found, people donate more money when there is a high number of deaths, even though we should be donating more when there is a large number of survivors who really need the help.
Empathy - "Woman runs over frog [accidentally] with a lawnmower -- then flies him hundreds of miles for surgery."
Pay it forward - "At one Philly pizza parlor, customers can 'pay it forward' by pre-purchasing $1 slices of pizza for people in need."
5-year-old helps homeless man
Sacrificing one's life
Truly altruistic behavior? - Although this is a very sad case, I am always looking for good examples that raise the question of whether humans helping can ever be considered unselfish. [added 2/2/15]
Omission bias - Is failure to not helpless reprehensible? Are people more responsible if they do something (vs. fail to do something)? omission bias- we tend to blame outcomes on actions rather than inactions.
Ex: A boy throws a ball (action) that another boy could have gotten but wasnt paying attention (inaction) and it breaks a car window. Who is most to blame? Ans: boy who threw ball
You are walking up the street in SF when you see a trolley careening out of control. It is about to hit and kill 5 people. You happen to be standing next to a switch that could divert the trolley to a second track where it would kill only one person. Do you flip the switch? Ans: yes b/c action is indirectly causing one persons death, but saving 5
You are standing on a bridge in SF when you see a trolley below you careening out of control. It is about to hit and kill 5 people. You are standing next to a large man who is leaning over the railing to see what is happening. If you push him off the bridge, he will fall on the track and be killed, yet his weight will stop the trolley saving the 5 people. Do you push him? Ans: no because action directly caused persons death (H/T George Schreer) [added 2/2/15]
"Prosocial bonuses increase employee satisfaction and team performance" - "In three field studies, we explore the impact of providing employees and teammates with prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus spent on others rather than on oneself." The first link is to the research article; the second link is to an online article about the research. [added 1/29/15]
Social loafing/bystander effect - Sam Sommers provides a nice example in the form of a mass email request for help. [added 4/3/13]
Priming of helping - "Men who had been approached by a woman asking for directions to Valentine Street were willing to help a different woman retrieve her cell phone from “thieves”, helping her almost 37% of the time. Men asked for directions to Martin Street only helped 20% of the time. The simple mention of “Valentine” unconsciously motivated men to behave in a more chivalrous manner." [added 4/01/13]
Bystander effect - about the individual who was pushed on the tracks of an oncoming subway train in New York City [added 3/5/13]
Identifiable-victim effect - We are more likely to help identified victims than unidentified or statistical victims. Here's an example of personalizing victims, in this case a group that many are uninterested in helping to begin with. [added 6/20/12]
Reciprocal altruism - Woman dropped three valuable rings into a Salvation Army bucket apparently because the Army helped her grandfather years ago. [added 6/18/12]
Example of heroic rescue - During the recent Norwegian massacre, a tourist helped rescue several teens on the island where the shooting took place. [added 1/15/12]
Bystander intervention - case of bystanders and a medical team helping a man survive despite going 96 minutes without a pulse [4/9/11]
Good Samaritan case[added 12/5/10]
Bystander apathy - A very disturbing video -- A man who helped rescue a woman from an attack was seriously injured in the attack. He is now lying on the sidewalk dying. Watch the response of passersby. (Passersby - is that a word?) [added 6/19/10]
Man punches shark - video about a man who "punched a shark to save his dog's life" [3/26/09]
Children modeling parents - cute little video [added 12/12/07]
Ambiguity of Situation - I see examples all the time of how the level of ambiguity of need for help in a situation has changed over time in our society. For example, quite a few years ago if the interior light of a car was on it usually meant the person forgot to turn it off. If you saw that person leaving his car with the light still on you might mention it to him. As the technology advanced so that more and more cars had interior lights that turned off by themselves, there was a period of time during which that experience was an ambiguous one (at least for me). Is this one of those cars? Eventually, it was no longer ambiguous. Now, if I see someone close up a car and leave and the interior light is still on, I am quite confident that will turn off on its own. No help is needed. A similar pattern has occurred more recently (at least for me!) with car headlights. A few years ago, even if you knew that interior light was going off on its own, if the headlights were left on you might mention it to the driver. Now, some headlights turn off on their own shortly after the driver leaves. So, now I'm back in the land of ambiguity! Eventually, I imagine, when I see a driver walk away from his car, and it's rolling backwards down the hill, I'll think, "Oh, it's one of those new ones that park themselves."
Bystander effect - Sam Sommers comments on an event that happened in China in which passersby ignored a young child lying in the road who had been struck by a truck. Read Sam's commentary at the first link; here is a video which shows the kid being hit by a truck and then ignored by some people passing by. [added 1/15/12]
Bystander Effect - When we talked about altruism and helpfulness in class two past experiences crossed my mind. The first experience was on my sister's birthday, December 22nd. Our family had a dinner planned for this occasion. We were all to meet at a restaurant at a particular time. The weather on her birthday was terrible. It was very cold and icy. Also, there was quite a bit of snow still on the ground from the previous week. Well, I got stuck in my parking spot at my apartment. And, no one helped. I saw several people look out their patio windows at me, but no one helped. My tires were spinning and I know people must of heard my car. I was absolutely frozen. Well, finally I managed to dig around my tires and rock myself out of the rut. I was late for the dinner and had a chill all night. I was very mad that people saw me and did not help. I just couldn't believe they would watch a girl struggle whom they had seen in the apartment hallways and laundry room. However, after talking about the reasons some people help and some don't in class, I understand a little bit more. I believe the reason most people didn't help was just the ambiguity of the situation and lack of empathy. These people were just unsure about whether I really needed help or the consequence if they did help. And, it was so cold perhaps it just was not worth the effort. In addition, there was obviously diffusion of responsibility as there were many observers, yet not one helped. Perhaps, the observers thought someone would eventually help me and each passed the buck to the other.
Bystander Effect - This PBS site accompanying a Frontline show on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan massacre details how many countries stood by and did little to prevent the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans.
Identifiable victim bias (Empathy) - Why are we more willing to empathize with and help a few dozen stranded miners in Chile than the millions affected by flooding in Pakistan? This article suggests it is, in part, because of the miners are more clearly identifiable. [added 9/25/10]
Empathy - "Doctors who express empathy get highest patient ratings." [added 12/26/07]
Empathy - Relating to my husband's broken leg experience (again!), I offered some help to a woman last week at school. She was on two crutches and looked wistfully at the coffee pots before class started. I offered her my seat so she could put her bad leg on the table and got her some coffee. After living with this situation for so long, I know it's impossible to carry a cup of coffee while on crutches. This is a perfect example relating to my notes on "conditions affecting whether or not to help -- #6 empathy -- more likely to help similar others because easier to empathize/easier to relate to them." (I know punctuation is incorrect, but here I am quoting my incorrectly punctuated class notes!) This was the only condition which warranted me to help: there were many other people around; I was anonymous to her; I didn't feel guilty about anything; and I didn't even think about her response.
Empathy - The second experience was when I was on my way home which at this time was to my parents' house. I saw a jogger on the side of the road which looked injured as he was lying down and holding his leg. It was dark out and I wanted to stop, but thought maybe I should get my dad to come with me. So, I drove quickly home and dashed into the house to tell my dad. My dad was very eager to help just as I was because he was a jogger. You see, both of my parents and myself are joggers (similarity was the key here). Anyhow, my dad went with me to go see if we could help this injured jogger. Well, he wobbled himself to a parking lot down the street when my dad and I found him. He was not a jogger, but a drunk with long hair and earrings and a beautiful orange jacket. I was so glad my dad was with me! My dad and I brought the man home and I apologized to my dad for mistaking him for a jogger. He was very understanding. I believe both my dad and I could relate to what I perceived as an injured jogger. My dad has limped home himself several times. We definitely had empathy for this supposed jogger. I believe our moods were good too. I know my dad and myself well enough to know that if either one of us were in a bad mood, we would not have bothered.
Fear inhibits helping - Here's an interesting and disturbing first-person story of a journalist (and others) observing a helpless victim receiving a vicious beating and not intervening. This link takes you to an interesting blog which connects this event to some research on what is courage. [added 11/17/07]
Guilt - Fascinating story of Aki Ra who was forced at age 5 to plant land mines for the Khmer Rouge. "Ra regretted what he had done during his time in the Khmer Rouge—and he vowed to spend the rest of his life making it up to his fellow Cambodians. He remembered where he had buried many of the land mines, and knew how to quickly and safely disarm them. So, armed only with a metal detector, a small pocketknife, and several other small tools, he began locating land mines on the ground and disarming them by hand....So, for more than 20 years, Ra has traveled through the Cambodian countryside, disarming thousands of active mines and leading safety education programs for villages. Though the mines are filled with TNT and could detonate at any second, Ra has never been injured in his work." [added 3/6/10]
Guilt - I went through the Starbucks' drive thru over the weekend and after I order the lady asked if I would alike to buy a pot of coffee for the soldiers in Iraq. I was not ready for the question; I was kind of frazzled from other things going on (drive thrus wig me out, expecially when it is the building and a curb and the car has to fit between the two....YIKES). Anyway, I said yes because how do you say no. Guilt surely took over me. I would have felt horrible if I said no, but why... who knows if the soldiers will really get the pot of coffee. It was certainly somewhat of a selfish act because I did not have to worry about feeling guilty for the rest of the day. [added 4/16/08]
"The guilty green" - Guilt and Helping - Describes the guilt many environmentally-conscious people feel when their behavior is not always consistent with their beliefs [added 12/26/07]
Refusal of "help" - Londoners mostly passed up an offer for a free 5 pound note in this little "experiment" conducted by a price comparison website.[added 7/31/08]
Responsibility - An example of someone not helping because they feel that the event was internally caused and controllable was found in the movie "Burning Bed." In it, Farrah Fawcett is being abused by her husband and goes to her mother for help. Her mother's response is, "You make a hard bed; you got to lie in it." Here the mother clearly feels that since the daughter decided to marry the man -- a controllable, internally caused decision -- she isn't as deserving of help. It's her fault, she'll have to deal with it.
Social Responsibility Norm - Commuters push train to help passenger - interesting example of mass helping [added 2/2/15]
Social Responsibility Norm - During flooding in Gurnee, the TV reporters interviewed many people who were sand-bagging, asking them why they were helping out. Many responded in line with the social responsibility norm. They didn't live in the area, had nothing to gain or lose from stopping the flooding, but were out there helping because it seemed the right thing to do. I think that many were also motivated by what the book terms "perceived reasons for the need." People are more likely to provide help if they attribute the difficulty to external causes beyond the person's control. Here the rain causing the river to rise and flood would be an example of an uncontrollable event externally caused.
Using social norms - Hey, who put those pink flamingos on my lawn? "The flamingos were placed there by someone other than the home's resident to get the homeowner to donate money. In order to have the flamingos removed, the recipient needed to make a donation. The recipient is also encouraged to "flock" a friend's lawn in order to get them to contribute as well." [added 7/5/09]