Safety risks associated with helping reciprocity : influences of the initial helping source.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMasters of Science
This investigation explored reciprocal helping in the context of a high risk work environment. There were three hypotheses. Firstly, it was hypothesised that gratitude ratings would be positively related to helping reciprocity intentions. Secondly, as the helping source decreases in obligation to help, ratings of gratitude would increase. Thirdly, as the helping source decreases in obligation to help, helping reciprocity intentions would increase. This was based on the idea that when the help provided to an employee is an obligation as part of the helper’s job or is paid for, it is less likely to prompt gratitude and reciprocal helping, compared to when it is a genuine act of helping which is neither required by a role nor specifically paid for. Two repeated measures experiments were carried out. In both experiments the participants read four scenarios about being helped that varied by the source of the help which formed the four conditions. In Experiment 1 (N = 24) the help was provided by an external trainer, a supervisor, a co-worker officially assigned to be the employee’s mentor, and a co-worker. In Experiment 2 (N = 37) the external trainer condition was replaced with help provided by a Human Resource (HR) member. After reading each scenario the participants indicated their agreement with eight gratitude, helping reciprocity, and indebtedness items. In Experiment 1 and 2 there was a significant positive relationship between ratings of gratitude and reciprocal helping intentions. In Experiment 1 and 2 there was also a significant difference in reciprocal helping intentions across the helping source conditions. Ratings of gratitude, however, did not vary across the conditions in both Experiment 1 and 2. The results are discussed in terms of new employees entering a workplace. It is suggested that help needs to be assigned to those whose responsibility it is to train and help new employees, which should help discourage helping reciprocity.