What Is Helping in Social Psychology?


Jane Flores

Social psychology is a fascinating field that studies how individuals behave and interact with each other within a social context. It delves into various aspects of human behavior, including attitudes, beliefs, biases, group dynamics, and relationships.

One of the most interesting concepts in social psychology is ‘helping behavior.’ In this article, we will explore what helping is and how it works in social psychology.

What Is Helping?

Helping behavior refers to any voluntary action that benefits another person or group of people. This can range from small acts of kindness, such as holding open a door for someone, to more significant acts like donating money to a charitable cause or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Helping behavior can be motivated by various factors such as empathy, altruism, social norms, and personal values.

Why Do People Help?

There are several reasons why people engage in helping behavior. One of the primary motivations for helping is empathy – the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. When we see someone in distress or suffering, we often feel compelled to help them because we can empathize with their situation.

Altruism is another factor that drives helping behavior. Altruism refers to the selfless concern for others’ welfare without any expectation of personal gain or reward. People who are high in altruism are more likely to engage in helping behaviors.

Social norms also play a crucial role in determining when and how people help others. For example, cultures that value collectivism may place more emphasis on helping others than individualistic cultures.

The Bystander Effect

One phenomenon that has been extensively studied in social psychology is the bystander effect. The bystander effect refers to the tendency for individuals to be less likely to offer help when they are in the presence of others than when they are alone. This happens because people often assume that someone else will intervene, so they do not feel the need to act themselves.

The bystander effect was famously demonstrated in the case of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in New York City in 1964 while dozens of people witnessed the attack but did not intervene. This case led to increased public awareness of the bystander effect and sparked research into why people fail to help others in emergency situations.


Helping behavior is a critical aspect of social psychology that sheds light on how individuals interact with each other. Whether it’s motivated by empathy, altruism, or social norms, helping behavior plays an essential role in creating and maintaining positive relationships between people. By understanding why and how people help others, we can develop strategies to encourage more helping behavior and create a more supportive and compassionate society.