Effects of Perceived Risk and Strength of Affiliation on Decisions to Help Others: Toward a Convergence of Evolutionary and Social Psychology

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In this study, the influence of perceived affiliation with a target and perceived risk on decisions to act altruistically were investigated. These are variables which have been suggested by the social and evolutionary psychology literatures, respectively. 12 participants responded to automobile accident scenarios that combined risk and affiliation with a target in descriptions of opportunities to render aid. Participants reported a lower likelihood to help when perceived risk was high, but only if their perceived affiliation with the targets was low or moderate; tendency to help highly affiliated targets was uniformly high throughout all risk conditions. Participants' ratings of certainty in their decisions to render aid were directly related to both perceived risk and perceived affiliation with a target. Decisions were arrived at more slowly when perceived risk and perceived affiliation were both moderate. Therefore, both risk and affiliation were considered by participants when deciding whether to act altruistically. This illustrates a convergence of predictions from social and evolutionary psychology.


This article was originally published in Psychological Reports. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Psychological Reports


© Psychological Reports 2005