Help, Likability, and Social Influence1


  • Stanley J. Morse

    1. New York University
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    • 2

      Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Stanley J. Morse, Department of Psychology, New York University, Research Center for Human Relations, 4 Washington Place, 7th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10003.

  • 1

    This article summarizes the major points of a doctoral dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph. D. degree in the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan. I would like to thank the chairman of my dissertation committee, Daniel Katz, and the other formal members of my committee, Eugene Bumstein, Wilham Gamson and Gerald Gurin. I would also like to thank the informal “members” of my committee, Kenneth and Mary Gergen, of Swarthmore College, and Stanton Peele, of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.

  • I am also grateful to the Instituto di Psicologia in Rome for providing the necessary facilities for this research and to Paolo Paolini for serving as the experimental assistant.

  • This research was supported by grants, to the author, from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Office of Research Administration of the University of Michigan and by a grant from the National Science Foundation (GS-2803) to Kenneth Gergen.


What factors affect an aid-giver's perceived helpfulness and likeability and the amount of positive and negative social influence he is able to exert? In experiment I, subjects performing a difficult task expected or did not expect to receive help which they subsequently received or did not receive. No significant differences were found in reactions to the aid-giver in the two expectancy confirmation conditions. However, reactions were markedly different in the two disconfirmation conditions-very positive when unexpected help was received and very negative when expected help was not received. The two hypothesized main effects were found (p < .05) on the negative social influence, or counter-conformity, measure. In experiment II, the perceived nature of the task was varied. Subjects received or did not receive unexpected help on a relatively unimportant task which yielded only extrinsic rewards or on an intelligence test which yielded only intrinsic, ego-rewards. This time, social influence and counter-conformity measures both showed predicted interaction effects (p < .05), while attitudinal measures did not.