Model, need, and cost effects in helping behavior

Carl Wagner*, Ladd Wheeler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Attempted to (1) assess the effects of a selfish model on helping behavior in comparison to the effects of a generous model, (2) identify situational factors which might be differentially conducive to model effects, and (3) develop hypotheses about processes underlying model effects. 3 levels of model (generous, control, selfish), 2 levels of need for help, and 2 levels of cost of helping were incorporated in a factorial design. Data were collected in ostensibly real situations where 144 young male Ss were asked to donate money to charity. The results showed that helping increased from control to generous model and from high to low cost, and decreased from control to selfish model. Within a Cost * Model interaction, the main model effect was strong under low cost but not evident under high cost. Need as defined by the solicitor showed no effect on helping, but adjunctive analyses suggested that models could influence need as perceived by the prospective donor, which in turn could affect helping. (18 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1969
Externally publishedYes


  • helping behavior & need for help
  • selfish vs. generous model
  • cost effects


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