Meta-stereotypes, Social Image and Help Seeking: Dependency-Related Meta-stereotypes Reduce Help-Seeking Behaviour


Correspondence to: Juliet R. H. Wakefield, School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, UK.



People who need help can be reluctant to seek it. This can be due to social image concerns. Here, we investigate if these concerns may be prompted by a salient negative meta-stereotype: the belief that one's group is judged negatively by another group. Specifically, we researched group members' help-seeking behaviour in the context of a dependency-related meta-stereotype. In a two-condition study (N = 45), we manipulated participants' belief that their national group was judged dependent by a significant out-group. We then examined their subsequent help-seeking behaviour on a real-world task. Participants whose social identity as a group member was salient showed greater reluctance to seek help when the meta-stereotype was made prominent compared with when it was not. This suggests that, in a context where social image and social identity concerns are relevant, group members are willing to sacrifice the possibility of accessing needed help in order to avoid confirming a negative stereotype of their group. The implications of these results for helping transactions and community development are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.