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A Study Of Reciprocity Arousing Potential Essay

2006 words - 8 pages

Most traditional upbringings include a few key life lessons. Among these is a sense of paying it forward. There are many different proverbs to describe this occurrence; “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you,” and “One good turn deserves another,” The idea of reciprocity is such a generalized norm that people often don’t realize that they partake in this behavior. These reciprocal behaviors can often be very simple; holding a door, offering favors, and sharing some of your time can help to establish equity in relationships. People keep track of the good things done for them so that they can pay back these good deeds. Being indebted to anyone is a situation most people are uncomfortable with.
Often this decision to help is based off of likability. Likability is a precursor to relationships in which equity would be practiced. In a study of children and their helping behaviors sociometric status, the degree to which a person is liked by their peers, was a defining factor in the children’s decision process. Those who had a high sociometric status, or were generally viewed as being likable by their classmates generally received the most help even when they themselves did not engage in many helping behaviors (Marcus & Jenny 1977).
Although they did not often reciprocate help the implicit personality that had been formed by their classmates was strong enough to counteract this. The students with a high sociometric status had already established themselves as someone deserving of their classmates help. The implicit theories were strong enough that the absence of prosocial behavior could not influence their classmates to think otherwise of them.
In Lynn and Greenberg’s study on codependents and the help they offers it was found that they gave more of their time to someone with an exploitive personality rather than a nurturant personality. The control group was more likely to help the nurturant rather than the exploitive. Still, overall the codependents offered more help (Lyon & Greenberg 1991). Despite the exploitive personality not being very likely to reciprocate help the codependents still engaged in providing help. Unlike the control group who chose not to help the exploitive personality the implicit theory the codependents created who not unfavorable. Because of their history with alcoholic parents, they did not judge the exploitive personality harshly and were blinded to the lack of reciprocity potential. Even though help was still provided to the nurturant personality by codependents, it was significantly less because of the association and norms established with exploitive personalities. These implicit theories are a personal process.
Rewards also play into the process of deciding to help. People tend to be more generous to others when they are aware of the person’s identity because of the possibility of receiving social rewards (Enzle & Lowe 1976). This awareness allows them to be conscious of the benefits...

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