Top 5 Ways to Increase Helping

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Originally posted on June 2, 2014.

We receive help every day. I don’t grow the food I eat, knit the clothes I wear, or assemble the TV I try to avoid. I don’t even cut my own hair. Nope, I rely on others to help me. But how do I get help when it involves asking?

Amidst a recent report showing low levels of helpfulness among college professors (especially toward members of minority groups and women), I thought it would be good to help readers know how to increase helping.

Here are the top 5 ways to do it (adapted from Latané and Darley, 1970).

  1. Notice help is needed. This goes both ways. I need to be aware that other people might need my help. I also need to make sure other people know I need help by asking.
  2. Realize when help is needed. If it’s an emergency, let people know it.
  3. Take personal responsibility for helping. Ignore what other people do. If you see someone in need, don’t wait for someone else to do the job. To quote Mahatma Ghandhi, “We need not wait to see what others do.”
  4. Make a decision to help. Think of this as the step between you wanting to help and you actually helping.

Help! Now that you’ve made your decision, it’s time to put some feet on it. Take action and help.

About the Author
C. Nathan DeWall is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Psychology Lab at the University of Kentucky. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from St. Olaf College, a Master’s Degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Florida State University. DeWall received the 2011 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, which recognizes excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching. In 2011, the Association for Psychological Science identified DeWall as a “Rising Star” for “making significant contributions to the field of psychological science.”