How Receiving Help Can be Harmful

How Receiving Help Can be Harmful

How Receiving Help Can be Harmful

Helping others is almost universally seen as a good thing. Despite this, in certain circumstances the being helpful to somebody may in fact be detrimental to them.

Previous research has already demonstrated how being helpful is sometimes not useful:

The effectiveness of help is not always apparent, as recipients’ status, independence, and self-competence are often depressed by the mere act of seeking and receiving help

To explain this further researchers from the VU University Amsterdam conducted experiments to further understand how helping can be harmful: (Alvarez & van Leeuwen, 2014)

we wanted to explore the psychological consequences of receiving help for participants’ self-competence and their evaluation of the helper.

The study primarily revealed that the type of help given is significant to ensure it is not harmful:

As the results from this study demonstrated, receiving autonomy-oriented help was more positive for the relationship with the helper and was less psychologically harmful for recipients than receiving dependency-oriented help.

That is to say that help that enables the recipient by providing tools or hints that allow the recipients to solve their own problem rather than help that provides a full solution is much more positive.

While a full on solution may be quicker and more beneficial in the short term it does not help to establish a good relationship between helper and recipient. Ultimately leading to a reduction peoples self-competence.