Helping Others Lesson Plan

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

In this lesson plan, students will learn about three psychological models of helping others. Students will apply this information to a variety of scenarios, engage in small group work, and present their findings.

Lesson Objectives

As a result of this lesson, the student will be able to:

  • define three models for the psychology of helping others
  • explain how a specific psychological model would relate to a real-life scenario


  • 1-2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.


  • Evolutionary model
  • Egoistic model
  • Motivational model
  • Altruistic model


Lesson Instruction

  • Opening discussion questions:
    • What have you done recently that helped someone else?
    • What would you consider a surprising way for someone to help another person?
    • Who would you help?
    • Why do people help others?
    • Why might someone choose not to help others?
  • Read the opening of the lesson, Psychology of Helping Others, through the section titled ''Evolutionary Model.''
  • Ask students to talk with a partner and hypothesize a situation that might fit this evolutionary model of helping others. Have a few partners share, and comment on whether or not their scenario fits the model.
  • Read the next section, ''Egoistic Model.''
  • Have students once again briefly discuss with their partners whether they have ever experienced this egoistic model of helping others. Have volunteers share a couple examples.
  • Read the next section, ''Altruism Model.''
  • Ask students to share a real-life example of altruistic behavior.
  • Finally, read the lesson summary. Individually or in small groups, have students work through the lesson's quiz to check for understanding.


Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivators

  • Look back at the image in the lesson depicting intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators.
  • As a class, generate a longer list of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

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