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Building Community One Relationship at a Time: Consequences for the Seeking and Acceptance of Help


Three studies test the hypothesis that a perceived relationship is relevant to seeking and accepting help. The results first indicate a direct effect for a perceived relationship on the extent to which people are willing to seek and accept help. The findings further indicate that perceiving a relationship increases the importance of procedural justice judgments in shaping the decision to seek and accept help. This was true both in vertical relations (e.g., student–professor, resident–police officer) and in horizontal ones (e.g., student–student). The research extends prior findings showing that common group membership increases the influence of procedural justice judgments on whether people cooperate with fellow group members. The results show a parallel with the effects of a perceived relationship, suggesting a comparability between “relational” and “collective” levels of identity.

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The authors would like to thank Erin Cotrone, Marlone Henderson, and Zahra Nahar-Brown for their assistance on this research project.

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Correspondence to Angelina Davis-Lipman.

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Davis-Lipman, A., Tyler, T.R. & Andersen, S.M. Building Community One Relationship at a Time: Consequences for the Seeking and Acceptance of Help. Soc Just Res 20, 181–206 (2007).

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  • relational self
  • perceived relationships
  • help seeking
  • help acceptance
  • procedural justice
  • group value model