Negative-state relief model

Negative State Relief Model
The negative-state relief model states that human beings have an innate drive to reduce negative moods. They can be reduced by engaging in any mood-elevating behaviour, including helping behaviour, as it is paired with positive value such as smiles and thank you. Thus negative mood increases helpfulness because helping others can reduce one's own bad feelings (Baumann, Cialdini, & Kenrick, 1981).

Negative State Relief Model

In a classic experiment, subjects had their negative mood induced and were given an opportunity to help others. Between negative mood induction and helping, half of the subjects received something pleasurable, while the others did not. Those subjects without gratifying intervention before helped more significantly than those with. It was argued that the pleasurable intervention relieved subjects’ mood, and hence, altruism was not required to elevate their mood (Cialdini et al., 1973).

Under negative state relief model, helping behaviours are motivated by one’s egoistic desires. In Manucia’s study (1979), the hedonistic nature of helping behaviour was revealed and negative relief model was supported. Subjects were divided into 3 groups – happy, neutral and sad mood groups. Half of the subjects in each group were made to believe that their induced mood was fixed temporarily. Another half group believed that their mood was changeable. The results showed that saddened subjects helped more when they believed that their mood was changeable. The results supported the egoistic nature of helping behaviours as well as the negative state relief model.

Hedonistic nature of negative state relief model was supported in some literatures. For example, Weyant (1978) found that negative mood induction increased helping in his subjects when the cost of helping was low and the benefits were high. In an experiment with school children subjects, negative mood led to increased helping only when the helping opportunity offered the chance of direct social reward for their generosity (Kenrick, Baumann, & Cialdini, 1979).

It was found in another study that empathic orientation to the suffering increased one’s personal sadness. Despite high level of empathy, when the subjects were made to perceive their sadness as unchangeable, they helped less. Helping behaviors were predicted well by one’s sad mood rather than the empathy level (Cialdini et al., 1987).

This page was last edited on 18 September 2016, at 08:19.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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