Educated People Are More Likely To Help A Stranger, Study Finds
Australian researchers have found that a person's willingness to help a stranger depends on their level of education.
A study has investigated the relationships between various measures of socioeconomic status (SES) and acts of kindness.
It found educational attainment and occupation status had a profound positive effect on helping behaviour.
The group of researchers devised a field experiment to investigate what happened when they dropped envelopes across a range of Perth suburbs.
They looked at how many were delivered to the right place, using the number of letters returned as a measure of cooperativeness.
Letters distributed in high-SES neighbourhoods were more likely to be returned than letters distributed in low-SES neighbourhoods.
Study author and social science researcher Dr Cyril Grueter said that while altruism was a universal human trait, little was known about its specific links to someone’s socioeconomic background.
“A person’s willingness to help a stranger depends on their socioeconomic environment," Grueter claimed.
Having experienced sustained exposure to norm-abiding models, more educated people may also be better at internalizing cultural norms of helping behaviour, thus creating a more altruistic environment where they reside.
Study co-author Grace Westlake said the results offered a fascinating glimpse into community attitudes.
"(The study) may also prove relevant for policy development and intervention.”
You can read the full study in Evolutionary Human Sciences.