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J Appl Psychol. 2016 Aug;101(8):1097-110. doi: 10.1037/apl0000118. Epub 2016 May 5.

When lending a hand depletes the will: The daily costs and benefits of helping.

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Department of Management, Warrington College of Business Administration, University of Florida.
Department of Management, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University.


Employees help on a regular daily basis while at work, yet surprisingly little is known about how responding to help requests affects helpers. Although recent theory suggests that helping may come at a cost to the helper, the majority of the helping literature has focused on the benefits of helping. The current study addresses the complex nature of helping by simultaneously considering its costs and benefits for helpers. Using daily diary data across 3 consecutive work weeks, we examine the relationship between responding to help requests, perceived prosocial impact of helping, and helpers' regulatory resources. We find that responding to help requests depletes regulatory resources at an increasing rate, yet perceived prosocial impact of helping can replenish resources. We also find that employees' prosocial motivation moderates these within-person relationships, such that prosocial employees are depleted to a larger extent by responding to help requests, and replenished to a lesser extent by the perceived prosocial impact of helping. Understanding the complex relationship of helping with regulatory resources is important because such resources have downstream effects on helpers' behavior in the workplace. We discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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