From Help-Giving to Helping Relations

Arie Nadler

in The Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398991
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

From Help-Giving to Helping Relations


This chapter surveys social psychological research on help-giving and helping relations from the 1950s until today. The first section reviews research on help-giving and considers the conditions under which people are likely to help others: The personality dispositions that characterize helpful individuals and the motivational and attributional antecedents of helpfulness. The second section reviews research on helping relations, which transcends the help-giving perspective by looking at the long-term consequences of help on helpers and receivers and by examining help in the context of enduring and emotionally significant relationships, such as in families, communities, and organizations. Research on helping relations has shown that because independence is key to positive personal and collective identity, people are often reluctant to seek or receive needed help, and that in the long term, help can increase psychological and physical well-being for helpers but can discourage self-reliance for recipients. The third section analyzes helping from an intra- and intergroup perspective, considering how the provision of help can advance helpers’ reputations within a group or promote positive social identity of ingroups relative to outgroups. Help is conceptualized as a negotiation between the fundamental psychological needs for belongingness and independence. Conceptual and applied implications are discussed.

Keywords: help-giving; helping relations; help-seeking; reactions to help; belongingness; independence; interpersonal relations; intergroup relations; coping; interactive effects of personality and situation variables on behavior

Article.  20272 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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