A Comparison of Help Giving to Individuals Versus Humanitarian Organizations1


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    This research was supported by a grant from the German American Exchange Service (DAAD). The data were collected when the authors were at the University of California, Los Angeles. Portions of this article were presented at the annual meeting of the Western Psychology Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 2002. The authors thank Gerhard Helleman and Bernard Weiner for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

Daniela Niesta Kayser, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627. E-mail: dniesta@psych.rochester.edu


The theories of social conduct, seriousness of need, and similarity; cost–benefit models; and individual differences in ideology are used to predict self-reported help giving that is interpersonal or through humanitarian organizations. The results indicate that persons tend to be more helpful interpersonally than through organizations, are more responsive to characteristics of the needy when helping interpersonally than through organizations, and have stronger affective responses toward individuals than toward individuals represented by organizations. For both interpersonal and organization-mediated assistance, perceived benefit to the donor strongly predicts help giving. Relatively conservative persons report less helpfulness, both interpersonally and through humanitarian organizations. Collectively, these findings offer an integrative approach to help giving and have implications for fundraising in the humanitarian sector.