Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 6 (March 1991), Pages 433-523

The Effects of Onset and Offset Responsibility on Affects and Helping Judgments (pages 482-499)

Attributional studies of helping have examined perceivers affective responses and helping intentions as a function of responsibility (controllability) for the onset of a problem. This study extended the analysis to a responsibility for the solution (offset) of a problem and examined how the cause of both the onset and the offset of a problem determined perceivers' affective responses and helping intentions. One hundred and eighty subjects participated in the study. The subjects read one of three stories regarding the target person's behavior at the onset of falling behind in school (“sick” vs. “effort” vs. “no effort”) and reported their perceptions of the cause of the problem, affective responses, and helping intentions. Then they read one of three stories regarding the target person's behavior for the offset of the problem (“sick” vs. “effort” vs. “no effort”:' and responded again to the previously administered scales. Results indicated (a) that the final responses were strongly determined by the offset information. and (b) that sickness at the time of the onset led to negative affect and less helping intention when the offset information was “no effort.” The latter effect is discussed within the context of the moral judgment. Furthermore, structural equation analyses for the responses after the offset information revealed (a) that Weiner's “attribution‐emotion‐helping” model was applicable. and (b) that the effect of the effort perception on the helping intention was mediated by anger and pity.

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