chapter  5
10 Pages

Helping Stigmatized Victims

The research to be presented now examines the favorable side of the responseamplification hypothesis about the behavioral consequences of unintentionally injuring another person. The attempt will be to show that when actors have a chance to do a favor for someone they have just hurt, instead of being required to evaluate him (as in the studies described in Chapter 4), they will give more aid to a stigmatized victim than to one who is not stigmatized. This expectation follows from the same line of reasoning as did the earlier denigration prediction, inasmuch as helping and denigration are assumed to be functionally equivalent behaviors in the post-harm-doing situation-i.e., alternative means of reducing moral discomfort. 1

That transgressors are likely to engage in compensatory helping of their victims when afforded an opportunity to do so has been demonstrated in experiments that employed nondisabled white stimulus persons (Berscheid and Walster, 1967; Carlsmith and Gross, 1969; Freedman, Wallington, and Bless, 1967; and others). According to the ambivalence-amplification model, this helping tendency should be especially strong when the injured person is black or disabled. Three experiments were conducted to test this proposition.