It's the Thought That Counts: On Perceiving How Helpers Decide to Lend a Hand
Coauthor(s): Daniel Ames, Francis Flynn, Francis Flynn.
How do people react to those who have helped them? The authors
propose that a recipient's evaluation of a helper's intentions and
the recipient's own attitudes about future interactions with the
helper depend partly on the recipient's perceptions of how the
helper decided to assist: on the basis of affect, of role, or of
cost-benefit calculation. When a recipient perceives that the decision
was based on affect (i.e., positive feelings about him or her),
he or she will be more inclined toward future interaction and
reciprocation than if he or she perceives the decision as based on
role or cost-benefit calculation. It is proposed that these "decision
modes" signal the helper's underlying attitudes about the recipient,
which in turn, clarify their relationship. A boundary is also
identified: The negative impact of apparent cost-benefit thinking
is greatest when the amount of help provided is small. Predictions
are confirmed in four studies of actual and experimentally
manipulated helping episodes.
Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Ames, Daniel, Francis Flynn, and Elke Weber. "It's the Thought That Counts: On Perceiving How Helpers Decide to Lend a Hand." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 30, no. 4 (April 2004): 461-74.