ERIC Number: ED354464
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Empathy and Helping in a Non-Distress Situation.
Theories about helping behavior have branched into two basic areas: egoistic and altruistic. Egoistic theories describe helping as being induced by sadness or distress; the Empathy-Altruism hypothesis contends that people help when they feel empathy for another in need. Fultz, Schaller, and Cialdini (1988) looked at the possibility that three emotions--sadness, distress, and empathy--may increase helping. The intent of this study was to demonstrate the occurrence of helping in a situation in which only empathy is evoked and therefore can be the only emotion to affect the helping response. College students (N=60) were randomly divided by an instruction set into either high or low empathy groups. These subjects were asked to listen to two radio programs and to evaluate them as part of a media evaluation task. After each tape, the student completed a media evaluation and an emotional response questionnaire. The first tape was used to obtain a emotional response baseline. The second tape presented a helping situation free of sadness and distress. The situation described a student, of the same gender as the participant who was raising money for an educational trip abroad by stuffing 25,000 envelopes for a fee of $1,500. Later each student was given an opportunity to stuff envelopes for the interviewee. There was no difference between high and low empathy instruction groups on self-reported empathic listening. However, female participants who reported listening empathically helped significantly more than those who did not. Their emotional response questionnaire scores showed no change in sadness or distress but a significant increase in empathy. Findings suggest that a situation free of sadness and distress can evoke empathy which is associated with greater helping among female subjects, offering partial support for the Empathy-Altruism hypothesis. (Author/ABL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (64th, Chicago, IL, May 1992).