Title

Who are you more likely to help? Relationship status and empathy predict helping

Presenter Information

Tori WellsFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychology

Minor

Applied Statistics

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Jana Hackathorn, PhD.

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Problem/Purpose: Bystander effect refers to the idea that people are less likely to help someone in need when there are other people present. Instead a negative relationship is present, in that a person’s feeling of responsibility to help decreases as the number of other bystanders increases. The current study is examining factors that might better predict engaging in helping behaviors. Past research has found that empathy plays a role in situations, and that as people relate to others’ experiences, they feel an increased need to help and engage in helping behaviors (Paciello et al., 2013). Sierksma and colleagues (2014) examined helping behavior in children by giving them vignettes and asking how likely they would help in those situations. They found that the children were more likely to help in the situations where a friend was present, compared to if there was a stranger or no one present. Thus, the question remains whether empathy is only influential depending upon the relationship to the victim. That is, would individuals be more likely to intervene if the helping behavior affected a friend compared to a stranger. The current study examined the influence of empathy, in conjunction with the relationship status to the victim, to determine likelihood of helping.

Procedure: This study is a 2(victim status: friend, stranger) X 2(effort: low, high) double-blind mixed method experiment. Specifically, participants are randomly assigned to read nine vignettes that vary on relationship to victim, report their likelihood to help, and level of effort (i.e., low effort, high effort) they are willing to exert while helping. After completing the vignettes, participants will complete the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ; Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine, 2009).

Expected Results: Data collection is still underway, but it is expected that helping behavior will be higher for friends than for strangers on general helping. It is also expected that empathy will be positively correlated with general helping behavior.

Conclusion and Implications: When someone is needing help, it isn’t always obvious and our first instinct to do. It can be hard to know how to help. This study examines varying ways the participants could help in each scenario and determines which factor (e.g., relationship status, empathy) may play a role in their helping behavior. By understanding those factors, psychologists could provide education and guidelines that help increase engagement in pro-social behavior. Perhaps, we can teach individuals how to become a more proactive bystander.

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Who are you more likely to help? Relationship status and empathy predict helping

Problem/Purpose: Bystander effect refers to the idea that people are less likely to help someone in need when there are other people present. Instead a negative relationship is present, in that a person’s feeling of responsibility to help decreases as the number of other bystanders increases. The current study is examining factors that might better predict engaging in helping behaviors. Past research has found that empathy plays a role in situations, and that as people relate to others’ experiences, they feel an increased need to help and engage in helping behaviors (Paciello et al., 2013). Sierksma and colleagues (2014) examined helping behavior in children by giving them vignettes and asking how likely they would help in those situations. They found that the children were more likely to help in the situations where a friend was present, compared to if there was a stranger or no one present. Thus, the question remains whether empathy is only influential depending upon the relationship to the victim. That is, would individuals be more likely to intervene if the helping behavior affected a friend compared to a stranger. The current study examined the influence of empathy, in conjunction with the relationship status to the victim, to determine likelihood of helping.

Procedure: This study is a 2(victim status: friend, stranger) X 2(effort: low, high) double-blind mixed method experiment. Specifically, participants are randomly assigned to read nine vignettes that vary on relationship to victim, report their likelihood to help, and level of effort (i.e., low effort, high effort) they are willing to exert while helping. After completing the vignettes, participants will complete the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ; Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine, 2009).

Expected Results: Data collection is still underway, but it is expected that helping behavior will be higher for friends than for strangers on general helping. It is also expected that empathy will be positively correlated with general helping behavior.

Conclusion and Implications: When someone is needing help, it isn’t always obvious and our first instinct to do. It can be hard to know how to help. This study examines varying ways the participants could help in each scenario and determines which factor (e.g., relationship status, empathy) may play a role in their helping behavior. By understanding those factors, psychologists could provide education and guidelines that help increase engagement in pro-social behavior. Perhaps, we can teach individuals how to become a more proactive bystander.