Competence and Helping

Notes toward a Model
  • Elizabeth Midlarsky
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (BLSC, volume 31)


Although the literature on helping has burgeoned in the past several years, it has primarily emphasized questions regarding motives or activating mechanisms (cf. Hornstein, 1978; Midlarsky & Suda, 1978; Piliavin, Dovidio, Gaertner, & Clark, 1981; Staub, 1978). Yet, like other interpersonal transactions, helping consists of three analytically distinct components: (1) a motive or goal, (2) the behavior, and (3) the consequence(s) (Barton, 1969; Ossorio, 1966). Hence, in addition to the need to investigate the motivational basis of helping acts, one must also bear in mind that altruistic or helpful behaviors may vary in nature, duration, and extensity, and that the consequences of altruistic behavior for both the recipient(s) and the actor may vary as well. In contrast to other efforts, it is proposed here that at a minimum, a model of helping should include all three of the components designated—the motivational antecedens, the behavioral component, and the consequences.


Social Anxiety Prosocial Behavior Altruistic Behavior Competent Individual Actual Competence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Midlarsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DetroitDetroitUSA

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