2018 Volume 34 Issue 1 Pages 26-37
The present study aims to investigate when and why helping behaviors are criticized by a third party. We propose that people infer an ulterior selfish motive for others’ helping behaviors that occur in some self-presentational contexts. A vignette study was conducted with 149 undergraduates who read scenarios describing helping behaviors in various kinds of contexts. Analysis using a multi-level structural equation model provided partial support for our notion. It was shown that selfish motives were more likely inferred in situations in which observers who happened to be there praised the helping behavior than otherwise. However, this did not lead to increased criticism. It was also shown that the help was more likely regarded as needless, and, therefore, selfish motives were more strongly inferred when the help was refused than when it was requested by a recipient. Some methodological problems and future directions are discussed.