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A Taxonomy of Helping: A Multidimensional Scaling Analysis

Philip L. Pearce and Paul R. Amato
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 363-371
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033956
Page Count: 9
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A Taxonomy of Helping: A Multidimensional Scaling Analysis
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Abstract

It is argued that the social psychological literature on helping lacks an organizing framework that interrelates the various forms of helping. To provide such a framework a total of 72 Australian university students rated the similarity of 62 forms of helping derived from the literature. Multidimensional scaling analyses with fitted vectors suggest a stable, three-dimensional structure of helping. These dimensions are: planned, formal vs. spontaneous, informal help; serious vs. nonserious help; and giving, indirect vs. doing, direct help. This typology is shown to be useful for the interpretation of previous literature on helping. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the taxonomy of helping is useful in stimulating new directions in helping research, in creating new helping forms, and in planning helping studies. The generality of the present taxonomy needs to be tested with other national and subcultural groups.

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