Gender Issues

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 65–70

Helping hands: A study of altruistic behavior


  • Elizabeth Monk-Turner
    • Old Dominion University
  • Victoria Blake
    • Old Dominion University
  • Fred Chniel
    • Old Dominion University
  • Sarah Forbes
    • Old Dominion University
  • Lisa Lensey
    • Old Dominion University
  • Jason Madzuma
    • Old Dominion University

DOI: 10.1007/s12147-002-0024-2

Cite this article as:
Monk-Turner, E., Blake, V., Chniel, F. et al. Gend. Issues (2002) 20: 65. doi:10.1007/s12147-002-0024-2


The purpose of this paper is to better understand how altruistic behavior varies by gender, race, age, and dress. Eagly & Crowley’s (1986) social role theory maintains that the traditional male sex role promotes heroic and chivalrous helping behavior. Based on this theoretical insight, we hypothesized that men would be more likely to exhibit helping behavior than women (regardless of their race, age, or dress), especially if the person requiring assistance was a woman. We also expected that fewer women than men would offer assistance to another, especially if the person in need of help was a man. To test our hypotheses, we went to the downtown Waterside Festival Marketplace, where male and female actors “dropped” a stack of books. We found no significant differences in helping behavior between male and female subjects, all else being equal.

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© Transaction Publishers 2004