Some determinants of cross-racial helping behavior

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Tested the hypothesis that White Americans will favor Black over White help-seekers when both display socially valued characteristics. Male confederates posing as college students telephoned 2,340 White adult males and asked them to answer several questions about a consumer product. Confederates identified themselves as Negro or Black or used no racial label. In addition, callers used either high, medium, or low levels of assertiveness. Ss' racial attitudes were assessed 1 mo later in another telephone survey. Amount of compliance was greater for Negro callers than for Black or nonminority (i.e., no label) callers. Compliance rates declined with increasing assertiveness, especially for minority callers. In the Negro condition helpers had less favorable racial attitudes than nonhelpers. In a 2nd experiment confederates asked males of both races on subway platforms to participate in a brief consumer survey interview. All Ss favored Black confederates, and the effect was enhanced when confederates described themselves as college students. In another subway study male confederates asked for change for a quarter. Compliance was greater for White confederates. Results are consistent with the perceived social desirability hypothesis. An ambivalence interpretation of cross-racial altruism is suggested by the obtained attitude-behavior relationship.


Published In

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 6, 964-970.