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You’re more likely to get help in crisis than in non-hazardous situation

sex-and-relationships Updated: Oct 03, 2016 18:44 IST
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You are more likely to get help from others in a crisis situation rather than in a harmless everyday problem, say researchers. (Shutterstock)

Have you ever wondered why people readily help accident victims but hesitate to give loose change in exchange for Rs 500? Researchers have found the reason behind this strange human behaviour.

Turns out you are more likely to get help from others in a crisis situation rather than in a harmless everyday problem, say researchers, adding that extreme conditions bring out the best in people, especially those who are altruistic and pro-social.

“Emergency situations seem to amplify people’s natural tendency to cooperate,” said one of the researchers Mehdi Moussaid from Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany.

In the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers showed that readiness to help depends heavily on personality.

The experiments showed that pro-social and altruistic people in particular often helped others even more in an emergency situation than in a relaxed and non-threatening situation, whereas selfish participants became less cooperative.

The researchers invited 104 individuals to participate in a computer game that was developed specifically for the experiment.

Extreme conditions bring out the best in people, especially those who are altruistic and pro-social. (Shutterstock)

In this ‘help-or-escape dilemma game,’ participants under time and monetary pressure had to decide whether they were willing to risk taking time to help others before reaching their goal or saving themselves in two different situations — one everyday and one emergency situation.

After the game, the researchers measured participants’ social value orientation — that is, their concern for others — and categorised them as having a pro-social or individualistic profile.

The researchers found that many of those categorised as pro-social were more helpful in the emergency situation — 44% of them were more ready to help in the emergency than in the everyday situation.

The opposite was true of participants categorised as individualistic, 52% of whom reduced their cooperative behaviour in the emergency situation.

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