Investigating Individual Helping Behavior: A Research Proposal

Have you ever wondered whom do people help? - Investigating Individual Helping Behavior: A Research Proposal introduction?? The purpose of this work is to present a review and analysis of two parameters that have significant effects on the helping behavior of individuals. Literature reveals that more attractive and beautiful individuals encourage more empathy; accordingly, research has shown that people are more likely to extend help to those that they have empathy for (Baston, 1999). Another variable that is of interest is the setting or location of the experiment. Is helping behavior triggered in a quiet and less crowded place or in a noisy and very crowded place?

Here, I investigate and conduct experiments to verify, validate, and answer the questions posed. Accordingly, four different experiments are set up. To explore the effects of appearance through clothing to an individual’s behavior, a hired actor or accomplice is to dress smartly half of the time and shabbily during the other half. Each of the two cases is set in a mall and in a library. This is to look further into the effects of location when seeking for help. For each of the four situations, five male and five female subjects are investigated. A total of 40 human subjects are involved in this small-scale research (20 males and 20 females).

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Moreover, this research is extended to include analysis of the different facial expressions of the subjects at the time of the experiment and their reaction times, The reaction time is the total time it takes for a person to react from a certain situation, which in this case, is when books are dropped on the floor. Did the strangers look willing to help or not? In doing so, I could extract more insights for a more in depth analysis of results. I propose that the observed variables are highly correlated to the output variable that we are interested at which is the helping behavior of individuals under study.

Introduction According to a study done by Bendapudi, et al. (1996), the willingness of an individual to extend help to another person who is in need is acknowledged as a generic human principle. A vast number of literature deals with the investigation of this helping behavior to have a better understanding of human nature. What is helping behavior? There are many types of helping behavior, which could be thought of as a continuum. The other end of the spectrum represent trivial ones like passing a dish to another person over dinner or giving directions to a stranger who is asking for one.

The other end constitutes grand and monumental helping behaviors like giving ones life to help save another. We make use of the former for this particular research endeavor. In accordance with the results and conclusions obtained from scholarly articles and publications, helping behavior is influenced by specific personality traits of the recipient. For examples, some psychology articles reveal that helping behavior is catalyzed when the individuals involved belong to the same race (Bryan & Test, 1967; Wegner & Crano, 1975). Some other studies look at the effects of gender to helping behavior.

In a study conducted by Wegner & Crano (1975), women are more helpful than men. On the other hand, some studies like that of West, et al. (1975) found that men display helping behavior more than women. Interestingly, the way a recipient dresses influences another’s helping behavior. For example, empirical evidence showed that likeness between (or among) individuals with respect to stylishness (style of dress) influenced helping behavior (Emswiller, et al. , 1971). In this work I verify this finding—the effect of appearance through the clothing of the recipient to helping behavior.

I hope to attest through this research whether there is indeed a positive or a negative correlation between stylishness and helping behavior. Moreover, I wish to determine whether it matters when a request or help is solicited in a crowded location like a mall or a grocery store or in a quiet and less crowded place like in a library. Does the helping behavior of an individual vary when one is found in an entirely different setting? Methodology I will be investigating the reactions of strangers when they are sought for help. Specifically, when a situation like books dropping on the floor happens in front of them.

Four different situations will be set to look into two variables: effect of appearance through clothing of the recipient of help and the effect of the number of strangers or bystanders in a particular location. For the first part where the effects of appearance shall be observed, the actor that I shall be assigning to do the experiment shall be well-dressed half of the time and shabbily dressed during the other half. Moreover, we (actor and myself) shall conduct both experiments in two different locations where the densities of the population vary.

The first location will be at some mall where lots of people hang out. The second location will be at some school library where a relatively fewer number of people is expected. Since literature has revealed that helping behavior may differ in gender, I hope to remove this bias by further conducting two sets for each type of the experiment/setup illustrated above: shabby/mall; shabby/library; well-dressed/mall; well-dressed/library. (Wegner & Crano, 1975; West, et al. , 1975). The entire experimental process is better illustrated in the schematic diagram shown in Figure 1.

The experiments shall involve book dropping. My accomplice shall be instructed to drop his/her books in the most natural and credible way possible in a sea of people. Only one and the same actor shall be “hired” for the entire research to minimize sources of error and uncertainties in the results. Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the entire experimental process. (a) (b) Figure 2. (a) Shows a well-dressed individual. (b) Shows a shabbily dressed individual. I (hidden from view) shall observe the reactions of ten different strangers for each of the given situation (five males; five females).

This way, the experiment could be deemed statistically sound. Figure 2 shows how a well-dressed individual and a shabbily dressed one appear. In Figure 2a, the well-dressed individual wears smart casual attire, and is well-groomed. On the other hand, the one dressed raggedly wears a loose t-shirt and a ragged pair of faded jeans (Figure 2b). (a) (b) Figure 3. (a) Shows a library (Image downloaded from Google? Images). (b) Shows a mall (Image downloaded from Google? Images). Figure 3, on the other hand, shows snapshots of the two experimental settings (varying location). Figure 3a shows a library.

Here, it is evident that it has a lesser number of individuals than the mall (Figure 3b). During the survey, I shall be filling in the forms shown below. To maintain a real-world atmosphere, the cohort (observer/investigator or myself) shall be filling in the form from afar, as an outside observer. It is assumed that when individuals realize that they are involved an experiment or investigation, there is a high probability that their behaviors become altered. From the form below, one can see that the response times of the individuals during the experiments shall be duly noted.

I assume that there is a high probability that the response time may also depend on the two variables that we are investigating. Moreover, I deem that it is important to note the facial expressions of the individuals sought for help. I shall classify the facial expressions as follows: smiling, blank face, and frowning. Again, based on the given facial expression, I hope to be able to give some insights on the subjects’ helping behavior. For the data gathering part, I shall fill in Table 1. I shall obtain the number of individuals who would respond positively (extended help) against the total number of subjects for a particular setting.

Moreover, the different response times for each subject under study are calculated including the mean response times for those who would agree to extend help and those who would not are taken separately. For this experiment to be statistically sound, I shall solve and involve the analysis of the standard deviations in the response times and check whether there are significant differences among the results. It might also be interesting to use linear discriminant analysis (LDA), a statistical tool, to determine which between the two variables (appearance versus location) is more highly correlated to our dependent variable – extend help or not.

The last column gives the average response time of those individual who helped out. Variables % Who Helped Response Time (helped) Well-dressed Shabbily dressed Library Mall The investigators (myself and an actor) shall maintain a polite manner all throughout the experiment since the individuals under study will initially be unaware of the evaluation. However, after getting a response from a subject, he/she shall be immediately informed that he has just been taken as a subject in an actual psychology experiment. He shall then be assured that his identity shall remain concealed.

In fact, it will not be necessary for them to revel their names. Moreover, a participant may demand that he/she be excluded from the data. On the other hand, if I may be allowed to take videos or just pictures of the experiment for documentation purposes, that would be great. A complete profile of the settings, including the number of people within the vicinity and the type of people in the area, would be very informative in the study. However, I completely understand that holding experiments that involve people as subjects require careful understanding and evaluation of their safety.

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