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The Helping Orientations Inventory: Measuring Propensities to Provide Autonomy and Dependency Help

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on

Abstract

Research on helping behavior distinguishes between giving recipients the tools to solve problems for themselves (autonomy‐oriented help) and direct solutions not requiring recipients’ involvement (dependency‐oriented help). Across three studies, we examined whether individuals can be characterized by dispositional propensities toward offering autonomy‐oriented and/or dependency‐oriented help. In initial studies, factor analyses revealed the two hypothesized Helping Orientations Inventory scales along with an additional scale capturing opposition to helping, all acceptable in internal consistency and test‐retest reliability (Study 1a – 1c). Next, we found that the three scales related in distinct ways to constructs from the intergroup (e.g., social dominance orientation) and interpersonal (e.g., empathic concern) helping literatures (Study 1d and 1e). Additionally, these orientations predicted satisfaction with volunteer behavior (Study 2) and interest in future volunteering (Study 3). Overall, people vary in their helping orientations, and these orientations implicate a range of variables relevant to intergroup and interpersonal helping.