Learning From Service: The Effect of Helping on Helpers' Social Dominance Orientation


Margaret A. Brown, Department of Psychology, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Avenue West, Suite 107, Seattle, WA 98119. E-mail: mbrown@spu.edu


Helping behavior can affect the power dynamics between social groups (Nadler, 2002). The present research investigated whether helping also affects one's views of those power dynamics, as indexed by social dominance orientation (SDO) scores (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994). College students in an introductory psychology course were randomly assigned to a helping (service learning) group or a control group. Students in the helping group participated in 18 hr of community service over 9 weeks, and showed a significant decrease in SDO, compared to the control group. Empathy mediated the relationship between helping and SDO. The pedagogical implications of service learning are also discussed, as are the potential moderating roles of helping type and contact.