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J Soc Psychol. 2004 Jun;144(3):229-45.

Identity, place, and bystander intervention: social categories and helping after natural disasters.

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Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YF, United Kingdom.


The authors developed a Self-Categorization Theory (SCT) approach to bystander behavior. Participants were 100 undergraduates at an English university. The authors made either a European or a British identity salient. Participants then rated their likelihood of offering both financial and political help after natural disasters in Europe and South America. When European (but not British) identity was salient, participants were less likely to offer help for disasters in South America than Europe. They were also more likely to offer financial help after disasters in Europe when European non-British identity was salient. There were no differences in levels of emotional response to disasters by identity salience. Results indicate that social category relations rather than geographical proximity or emotional reaction are most important in increasing helping behavior after natural disasters.

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