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To examine the effects of one kind of cost on helping behavior, 32 males and 32 females were provided with an opportunity to offer help spontaneously in a nonemergency situation. In one condition persons risked a somewhat embarrassing encounter by helping, while the other involved little or no risk of embarrassment. Helping was more frequent in the non-embarrassing condition; there was no overall sex difference in helping, but sex interacted with the experimental treatment to produce a strong interaction. The results support contentions that potential embarrassment deters helping in nonemergency situations and that person-situation interactions ought to be more carefully studied by social psychologists.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1978

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