Determinants of help seeking behaviour: The effects of helper's similarity, task centrality and recipient's self esteem

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Abstract

The present experiment was concerned with the way in which the characteristics of the helper the task and the recipient affect the willingness to seek help. In line with past theory and research it was reasoned that seeking help would be most threatening when one needs help on an ego - central task, and the helper is perceived as similar to oneself. Consequently, individuals were expected to seek least help under these conditions. Further it was expected that individuals who enjoy a high self esteem would be more sensitive to this self threat and seek less help under these self threatening conditions than would individuals who have a low self esteem. The experiment consisted of a 2 (similar versus dissimilar helper) times 2 (ego-central versus non central task) times 2 (high versus low self esteem subjects) between subjects design. Subjects worked on a difficult anagram task, and their actual help seeking behaviour served as a dependent measure. The findings support the experimental hypotheses. The conceptual and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

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