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.