Gender and Helping Behavior. A Meta-Analytic Review of the Social Psychological Literature

Alice H. Eagly*, Maureen Crowley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

715 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to our social-role theory of gender and helping, the male gender role fosters helping that is heroic and chivalrous, whereas the female gender role fosters helping that is nurturant and caring. In social psychological studies, helping behavior has been examined in the context of short-term encounters with strangers. This focus has tended to exclude from the research literature those helping behaviors prescribed by the female gender role, because they are displayed primarily in long-term, close relationships. In contrast, the helping behaviors prescribed by the male gender role have been generously represented in research findings because they are displayed in relationships with strangers as well as in close relationships. Results from our meta-analytic review of sex differences in helping behavior indicate that in general men helped more than women and women received more help than men. Nevertheless, sex differences in helping were extremely inconsistent across studies and were successfully predicted by various attributes of the studies and the helping behaviors. These predictors were interpreted in terms of several aspects of our social-role theory of gender and helping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-308
Number of pages26
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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