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Is helping someone a conscious act?

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Is helping someone a conscious act?

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Giving is at the heart of any social business.  The very act of collaboration entails sharing your time and insights with colleagues inside and outside of your organization.  Suffice to say however, we don’t always have work cultures that encourage those kind of behaviours.  A new paper may be useful therefore, in that it explores the decision making process whereby we choose to help another (or not).

The researchers conducted an online experiment whereby 3,400 participants were given a choice as to whether to contribute help towards a social good (which in this case was a reduction in co2 emissions), or not, with their response times being measured.  Interestingly, the research found that good deeds went up considerably (and free loading down) the more someone gave the matter thought and consideration.  When they acted impulsively, they were much less inclined to behave socially.

It should be said here, that the difference in consideration time is not massive.  It emerged that those people that contributed to the social good, would deliberate over the decision 40% as long as those who did not.  The finding was consistent, even when the individual switched from giving in the first instance to loafing in the second.

“We interpret this as evidence in support of the hypothesis that voluntary contributions to the real public good are driven by a deliberative weighting of personal costs and social bene ts rather than by affect and intuition” the researchers say.

These findings were even replicated when financial rewards were entered into the mix.  It emerged that people were more likely to choose financial rewards when acting impulsively, but more likely to choose the public good when deliberating over their decision.

There is a significant amount of literature on how we make decisions, and this piece is an interesting addition to them.  It is one of the few pieces of work that brings in the decision making system into the equation, and is therefore a valuable contribution to situations that may favour one system over the other.

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