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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The study of helping has been an independent area of study within social psychology since the 1960s. As the essays in the present volume indicate, the majority of this research has been concerned with the question of help giving and has sought to specify the variables that predict and explain people’s readiness to give of themselves to others in need. The author provides a different perspective on helping, shifting the limelight of scientific research and theory from the helper and his or her readiness to help others to the recipient and his or her readiness to seek and receive help. This shift of focus represents a change from viewing helping as agentic behavior, asking when people offer help to others in need, to casting helping as a relational dynamic between a person in need of help and a help giver. This focus on the recipient considers how the characteristics of the helper, the recipient, the relationship between them, and the help given affect (a) the readiness to seek help and (b) the reactions to receiving it.

Keywords: Intergroup helping relations, help seeking, recipients’ reactions to help, helper-recipient relations

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