Is Helping Behavior Influenced by the Helper’s Environmental Orientation?

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Is Helping Behavior Influenced by the Helper’s Environmental Orientation?

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            This research seeks to determine whether an individual’s willingness to help others is influenced by his/her environmental origin. To this, the research will measure and compare the willingness of the participants to help strangers. The participants will come from an urban and rural background as a means of measuring the influence of the participant’s environmental orientation.

Problem statement:

            This study seeks to determine whether there is a difference in the willingness to help between individual’s who come from a rural and urban background.


            This study seeks to find out whether a person’s environmental orientation would affect his/her willingness to help other people. There has been much study about altruism or helping behaviors and this study would further the scientific knowledge about the topic through an actual experiment. Moreover, the apparent individualism and emphasis on personal achievement have probably led to the decrease in altruistic behaviors or even the willingness to help others especially strangers. This study seeks to find out whether urban and rural individuals differ in their willingness to help which also contributes to the knowledge base on environmental orientation. In a way, this study would also examine the belief that individual’s who live in rural areas are more willing to help than those who live in urban areas based on the observation that individual’s who reside in urban areas are individualistic.

Related Literature

Socialization is an important factor that has been found to influence the values, beliefs and philosophies of an individual. Socialization is also as much a product of the kind of culture and social influences that the community is found in.  Thus, rural communities differ from urban communities based on the degree of interpersonal relationships, social cohesion of the community and individualism. Therefore urban communities do not have the kind of social relationships that is prerequisite for helping behaviors. In a study by Berenguer, Corraliza and Martin (2005) on helping behaviors for the protection of the environment between rural and urban respondents found that rural participants generally have more consistency with their attitudes and behavior on assuming responsibility for protecting the environment. People who lived in an urban community had positive attitudes on protecting the environment but did not actually behaved as such. The study also measured the moral obligation level of the participants and found that there was no difference between the two groups. This tells us that a difference in the behavior and attitudes of people from rural and urban areas does exist. In another study by Batson (1991) have opened the concept that people often notice callousness than caring about others and helping others. He found that people mostly remember the negative than the positive but it is undeniable that people do help others although on varying degrees. Helping behavior is not dead, despite the individualistic society the western world has, people do still help others. Just as how much do people help other people was the focus of the study by Maner and Gailliot (2007) which found that most people would want to and readily help others who are members of their kin. Also, empathic concern for others was manifested when the participants wanted to help their kin but not when they were helping strangers. This indicated that helping is not just a simple behavior but a complicated one that can be studied in order to provide the knowledge where and when do people help others.

Experimental Paradigm

            Helping behavior or even the willingness to help others cannot be adequately measured by using a questionnaire or an interview since helping is a positive behavior and the participants would most likely respond affirmatively to the question in order to present a positive image. Therefore, this study will use the experimental paradigm, wherein the participants will be asked by strangers for help, an observer will then record the responses of the participants. The experiment will be conducted in a rural and in an urban setting to satisfy the study’s goals. The experiment here is in the field rather than in a laboratory setting in order to derive the true reactions of the participants.

Analysis of Data:

            The data for this study will be analyzed using statistical analysis which will compare the number of participants form each group who willingly helped, those who had reservations for helping and those who refused helping others.

Materials needed:

            This study can only be conducted if the following materials are made available:

Experimental cohorts who will ask the participants whether they would help a stranger in need, also, a notebook to record the responses on a daily basis should also be provided,  script of the kinds of help that each cohort would ask the participants of the study. And the proper definition and identification of rural and urban   areas.


Batson, C. (1991). The Altruism Question: Toward a Social-Psychological Answer. Lawrence

Erlbaum Associates. ix, pp.257.The altruism question: Toward a social-psychological answer

Berenguer, J., Corraliza, J. & Martin, R. (2005). European Journal of Psychological Assessment.

Evaluacion Psicologica,  21, pp. 128-138.

Maner, J. K., Gailliot, M. T.,(2007). Altruism and egoism: Prosocial motivations for

helping depend on relationship context.  European Journal of Social Psychology, 37, pp 347-358.


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