A helping hand

Why do we help people?

Perhaps a little deep for late on Wednesday, but it’s something that has been playing on my mind for a while.

As I see it, how much help we are willing to give depends on what is being asked – how easy is it for me to help – who is asking – does this person ‘deserve’ my help – There is probably also an element of timing -am I all helped out this month. The biggest factor, or at least the most interesting for me right now is payback, or ‘what’s in it for me’.

My presumption is that all help is motivated by a self-benefit. It either makes us look good in front of others or it makes us feel good that we have done something worthwhile. Is there ever an act that can’t be viewed as on or other of these? Even if we did something that was ultimately detrimental either through cost or some other pain, the long term or pervading benefit is to the person who has helped.

For me corporate giving would play to reputational benefit while individual help is the latter (eg telethon donations) although this too could be about image (number of questions answered on a forum).

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