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Personal Norms and the Mediation of Legitimacy Effects on Helping

Shalom H. Schwartz and John A. Fleishman
Social Psychology
Vol. 41, No. 4 (Dec., 1978), pp. 306-315
DOI: 10.2307/3033583
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033583
Page Count: 10
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Personal Norms and the Mediation of Legitimacy Effects on Helping
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Abstract

Past research has shown that help is provided more frequently to victims whose need is legitimate rather than illegitimate. This study examined three mechanisms through which legitimacy of need might influence helping. Ten to twelve weeks after completing a survey which included measures of attitudes, perceived social norms, and personal (internalized) norms toward welfare, 316 housewives received a telephone appeal to volunteer time for a campaign for increased welfare payments. Legitimacy of need was varied in the appeal, and had the usual impact on volunteering. A significant interaction between legitimacy and personal norms revealed, however, that only those with no strong feelings of personal obligation with respect to aiding welfare recipients were influenced by legitimacy of need. Those with strong personal norms-whether positive toward welfare or negative-were influenced by their own norms but not by the legitimacy of need. Neither attitudes nor perceived social norms had similar mediating effects.

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