Study finds educated people more likely to help a stranger

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People from highly educated neighborhoods are more likely to help a stranger, according to a study by researchers at The University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University.

Study author Dr. Cyril Grueter, from UWA's School of Human Sciences, said that while altruism was a universal human trait, little was known about its specific links to someone's socio-economic background.

"Previous research by us and others has suggested that residents of high-SES areas are more likely to feel concern for the welfare of others," Dr. Grueter said.

"What we've found is that a person's willingness to help a depends on their socioeconomic environment.

"But what exactly is it about socioeconomic status that makes people go out of their way to help a stranger?"

The study, published in Evolutionary Human Sciences, investigated the relationships between various underserved measures of and acts of kindness.

The researchers used a field experiment to investigate pro-social behavior. Study co-author Grace Westlake dropped 600 envelopes across a range of 20 Perth suburbs and recorded how many were delivered.

The results show that the usual suspects—crime and —were not associated with the likelihood of a letter being returned. Instead it was and occupation status that had a profound positive effect on helping behavior.

"The precise reason why altruism flourishes in areas that are populated with highly educated individuals working in high- jobs requires further investigation," Dr. Grueter said.

"But these results offer a fascinating glimpse into community attitudes and may also prove relevant for policy development and intervention."


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More information: Grace Westlake et al. Educational attainment is associated with unconditional helping behaviour, Evolutionary Human Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1017/ehs.2019.16
Citation: Study finds educated people more likely to help a stranger (2019, December 13) retrieved 21 January 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2019-12-people-stranger.html
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